How It Happened in Peach Hill by Marthe Jocelyn.
This is a fascinating portrayal of a teen girl during Prohibition who moves from town to town with her mother who pretends to be a medium in touch with the spirits. When they arrive in Peach Hill, Annie plays the idiot, drooling and rolling one of her eyes so that she can serve as an information gatherer for her mother. But Annie who is a bright person begins to chafe under her mother’s rule and dreams of breaking free from the cage she has been put in.
Seventy pages from the end of the book, I still didn’t know how the author was going to end it. How were all of the details going to be tied together and still be satisfying. But Jocelyn does it very well, not projecting much of the ending ahead of time. The setting is fascinating, though I would have liked to have the time period introduced immediately. It was jarring to find clues about the 1920s when I thought I was reading a more modern story. The small town and outsider point of view was well done, as were the characters of Annie and her mother. I even enjoyed many of the lesser characters who were surprisingly unique just when you thought you had them figured out.
Unfortunately, the cover of the book does little to sell it. This is a good read that will have to be hand sold to readers who will look at the cover and not see the palm reading and crystal ball. It’s disappointing because there are such options with this subject matter.
Those teens who do pick it up will find a nice book that matches well with A Drowned Maiden’s Hair. Though it is a teen novel where Annie is 15 and 16 in the book, it is a gentle enough story to use with older elementary children and tweens. Recommend to tweens who enjoy realistic fiction.