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The Magic You're Missing

So, I have a confession to make. Despite my self-chosen label of bibliophile, I have a tendency to stick to a couple of genres in the literary world - mostly Fantasy or Teen Lit (thank you, Sarah Dessen). And while there are tons of books and authors I could explore in that genre alone, I wanted to use this article as a chance to challenge myself with something new.

Like most of you, I've got a couple of True Crime Junkies in my friend lineup and one of them was kind enough to loan me her personal copy of "All Good People Here" by Ashley Flowers. All I knew about the book going in was that it was the debut novel of a woman who is famous for her Crime Junkie podcast. Oh, and that my friend couldn't contain her excitement when she gave it to me. That was an excitement so palatable that I could almost taste it.

It was quite refreshing to dive into a book without any preconceived notions of what to expect. Usually a blind read leaves me confused for the first couple of chapters because I have no idea what is supposed to be happening or even what the book is about, but from page 1 of this novel, I was hooked. I might have been a tad biased given the protagonist is, herself, a writer, but Flowers really drew me into the head of this woman.

Within the first chapter or two, Flowers paints a heart-wrenching portrait of a protagonist who is trying desperately to care for an uncle suffering from early onset dementia while balancing a job that she's been doing poorly at for months. Despite her best intentions, she finds herself prioritizing a news story above all else, lending an extra layer of emotion to an already emotionally charged tale.

The bulk of the story centers on the protagonist trying to link the recent abduction of a local 5 year old girl to the death of her childhood neighbor and friend. She interviews old detectives and the townsfolk of a very busy-body town where everyone knows everyone's business. In between chapters focusing on the detective and the modern day case, our author also gives you glimpses into the mind of the mother of the original murdered child. She layers flash backs and storylines in a literary tapestry of content. The real wonder, for me, lay in how many clues and mis-steps Flowers was able to weave together in a way that leaves you guessing at answers up until the very end.

I'll stop there; as I loathe spoilers, but I'll leave you with this: the true magic in life exists outside our comfort zones. There are memories to be made, stories to be heard, and humans you've yet to meet but desperately need to...all just outside of your comfort zone. So this is your sign to try that new recipe or pick up that book a friend gave you that doesn't fit with your usual genres. There's a fabulous chance that you will be more than pleasantly surprised and maybe even have your life changed.

-Rachel Brashear is a hippie hillbilly two-spirit nonbinary native of the Arkansas River Valley for the past 30 years. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing and descends from a long line of story-tellers. She lives with a plethora of fur babies and relishes in an almost magical ability to build community.



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