Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 307
Set deep in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Kristin Hannah's Magic Hour tells the story of child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates and the six-year-old "wild child" she seeks to rehabilitate after devastating abuse. While Julia was once successful and highly respected in the field of child psychiatry, an unfortunate misunderstanding leading to a public scandal nearly ended her career and dealt a deep blow to her confidence. On the brink of beginning again, not quite certain of her direction, Julia receives a call from her estranged sister, Ellie, requesting her help in treating the mute young girl—Julia calls her "Alice"—who randomly wandered out of the Olympic National Forest into the town of Rain Valley, Washington, and whose past is unknown.
While Julia is at first reluctant to take the case on, she ultimately accepts and begins the challenging work of unraveling Alice's past—including from where and what circumstances she came, in addition to the nature of the abuse that has literally left her speechless. Over the course of Alice's treatment, Julia must learn to trust and work cooperatively with others, such as her sister, Ellie—the Rain Valley police chief—and handsome Dr. Max Cerrasin, a deeply private man delved in mysteries all his own.
As the threads of Alice's past begin to lace together before Julia's eyes, her faith in herself as well as in these others is rigorously tested, in addition to her ability to forgive and extend compassion—both to herself and to others perhaps not so deserving of it. Over time, Julia's confidence is restored, and she becomes fiercely protective of Alice, fighting state and federal authorities determined to institutionalize the child. The end result of this tale is a message of hope and the power of the human heart to heal from even the most catastrophic of blows.
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