Magnified World

Magnified World

Book - 2012
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What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, C2012
ISBN: 9780307360373
Branch Call Number: OCONN
Characteristics: 338 p. : ill. ; 21 cm


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ksoles Sep 06, 2012

3.5 stars...

In her debut novel, Grace O'Connell explores the effects of Carol Pierce's suicide. Profoundly troubled, Carol walks into the Don River with her pockets full of zircon from her New Age shop and leaves behind her husband and 23-year-old daughter, Maggie. Soon, Maggie begins to experience blackouts that signal the presence of an intruding, alternate reality.

The novel opens with Maggie’s first blackout and continues on to describe the ways in which she tries to regain control of her life. O'Connell moves seamlessly between the real world and Maggie's consciousness and introduces provocative characters who shift along with this movement: Gil, a man Maggie has never met, who nonetheless sends her sympathetic postcards and strikes an ominous deal with her; Maggie's boyfriend, Andrew, and best friend, Wendy, who appear one way to Maggie and another way to the reader; and the psychiatrists who have varying degrees of investment in Carol's past.

Some of O'Connell's descriptions become tedious and she gets bogged down with details without developing larger plot elements. A potentially horrendous car accident, for example, ends in no injuries, no emotional trauma and gets no further mention in the story. But ultimately, "Magnified World" has a pleasing style and elegantly strips away multiple layers of perception to try and find stability in an unstable world.

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