In Grace O’Connell’s debut novel, “Magnified World“, we’re introduced to Maggie, a twenty-something who is devastated to find out that her Mother, Carol has committed suicide by walking into the Don River with a pocket full of Zircon rocks. Maggie’s left behind to manage her Mother’s new-age store, Pierce Gifts and Oddities, but without her Mother, Maggie is lost with no sense of direction. It’s not easy for her to communicate with her Father, they have very little in common and both are at a loss of words.
Maggie starts having blackouts, inevitably starting at one location and having no clue how she’s arrived at another location. Her blackouts result in some very scary scenarios that lead her to seek help from a psychiatrist named Dr. Malik. He’s teaches Maggie some strategic ways to help her cope with her pain, but after bumping into Dr. Rosenberg, another psychiatrist that once worked with her Mother, she feels that he might be the better fit. He encourages her to keep a journal, he believes it will help to give some insight as to the origin of the blackouts. In this quote Maggie explains why she keeps a journal:
I didn’t make notes just about what I found, but also about things that popped into my head, my Mother’s sayings, little moments that drifted into my field of vision. My Mother helping a store owner down the street sweep up broken glass when his windows were smashed. Bring a knife to a gunfight. Her clumsy swipes while playing tennis in the park with my Father. A rising tide lifts all beat. The time she accidentally spit the ginger candy into a customer’s purse, the bright sudden blush, the laughter. What if the blackouts changed and started reaching backwards, taking away the memories I already had? I wanted to keep it all in one place, to keep her all in one place.
One day she starts receiving notes and cards from someone named Gil, she has no idea who he is, but she stores/hides them in a box in the store for safe keeping. When she finally meets Gil, he hands her a jade angel, a symbol that he comes in peace. He also comes wanting information about Maggie’s Mother Carol for a book he’s writing. He promises if she provides this information, he’ll help rid her of her blackouts. Maggie’s aware that her family and friends fear that history will repeat itself when it comes to her well being so she accepts Gil’s offer to help her on her road to recovery.
From here Maggie and Gil start a hidden companionship, his constant urging helps her get in tune with her emotions about her Mother and about herself. Their friendship is developed throughout the story, making this the perfect coming of age story.
Another element to this novel that deserves mentioning is that the city of Toronto, which becomes a recurring character. Torontonian’s will devour this book simply because the essence of our beautiful city is evident on each page. Whether you live in Toronto or elsewhere, you’re sure to love Grace O’Connell’s debut novel “Magnified World“!