Beautiful story!! Absolutely fantastic debut novel by Amber McRee Turner!
The story begins with 10 year old Cass, named after the Castanea dentata tree, waiting for her Mother to return from a 4 month rescue mission in flood ridden Missouri. Why Mother Toodi is off saving widows and orphans in nature torn areas, Cass is home with Dad Douglass, who is a janitor in the school year, meat sales man in the summer. Cass keeps a journal called the Book of In-Betweens where she doodles and takes notes for things to tell her mom in between her rescue adventures.
Dad has been working on the RV, the Roast he calls it, getting it ready for a big adventure of the summer, wanting to take Toodi and Cass on the road and help people together. This time when Toodi returns, things are different. Mom immediately is heading out to FL to help some orphaned children there, though we see from the dialogue with Toodi and Douglas that it isn't a trip for rescue, but that she is leaving them for good.
Douglas wants to show Cass that he can be a hero too, that they can get along fine without Toodi and that he is able to be creative and fun.. knowing in his mind that Toodi is not going to return.
He finds a suitcase in the attic with old soaps, initialed with famous peoples names. He tells Cass about his plan to stop at the nearest town they come across once they spot a lone shoe and share the 'Sway' with them. That if they wash with these soaps, they will take on characteristics of the famous person the soap once belonged to. He has a costume that transforms him to M.B. McLean and the wonders begin with Cass as his assistant.
Watch where the magic takes them and the Sway they have on the people they meet.
Douglas, the Dad in the story is a character you would want for a Dad. Truly loving his daughter and trying to make good, the things that are going wrong in her life. He is a trooper and the real hero in the story. I loved the imagination he had to design a summer trip and to take Sway to the people to help them. Cass really matures on the trip and is able to work through those things that are stressful in a young girls life, especially in realizing that your Mom is not coming back to the family. This story touched my heart deeply and the magic in it was just beautiful.
Amber McRee Turner write with spunk and feeling! She has a variety of unique, made up words that just fit so well into the storyline. She takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. I strongly recommend this book!