I am a wicked sucker for stories about people who just leave everything they know and start fresh someplace else. One of my favorite books, Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God is about a woman whose husband dies, and she takes the life insurance money and sells her house and goes to grieve someplace away from all the old memories and finds new friends and a new life in the process. I absolutely love stories like this, probably because it makes me dream about what it would be like to do something like that myself. To have that kind of financial freedom and safety to go on that kind of a soul-searching adventure.
Rachel is what we might call a witch, but with very specific magical powers. She can grant wishes. If someone wishes for something close enough to her, a small piece of paper will appear nearby and if she reads it and even thinks the wish, it will be granted. When she’s young without understanding how her ability works, she wishes her brother would “get lost” when he destroys her Lego castle – and he does. No one remembers he existed and she is sent to therapy and the psych ward at the local hospital for being so insistent that he did exist. She experiences very negative consequences at a very young age, and so develops the belief that her ability is dangerous and tries to squelch it.
After a long time without seeing any papers, she accidentally grants the wish of her best friend’s daughter on her birthday, Rachel decides that she would rather leave than hurt anyone she cares about, and ends up in the magical town of Nowhere. Her car suddenly runs out of gas and she is taken in by Catch, a local piemaker who has magical gifts of her own. She takes Catch up on her offer of staying in the attic, beginning a months long stay which will change her life and the lives of the people in that town forever.
This book had everything I love: redemption, discovery, hot make-out sessions, friendship, forgiveness, in-depth pie smell descriptions, new beginnings, and above all understanding and acceptance for who a person is. The kind of relief that comes from someone loving you for who you are, being able to be yourself without hiding or holding back, that’s relief that touches deep in the soul. I love reading a story that shows me that this kind of love or friendship might be possible. It’s like watching a flower unfurl, feeling safe to open up toward the sunshine.
I loved this book, and to be honest I was reading it at a time when I needed to see these things happening for someone, even if it was in a fiction novel. If you need redemption, if you need hope that you can start anew, if you need to believe that wishes can come true, pick up Susan Crispell’s The Secret Ingredient of Wishes. You will not be disappointed.