Fifteen-year-old Annie is used to twisting the truth to her own benefit. After all, Annie’s Mama is Madame Caterina, a fake medium who claims to speak to spirits, but whose sham séances are about as real as a wooden nickel. Cross her palm with silver, or better yet, cold hard cash, and she’ll tell you anything you want to hear. But now that Mama wants Annie to pretend to be a drooling idiot so people will carelessly speak their deepest thoughts around her—thoughts that Mama can then use when pretending to tell their fortunes—Annie’s decided that she’s sick and tired of lying for Mama. She’s going to hatch a new scam that benefits her, and now Mama’s the one who’s going to have to learn to play along! This totally hip hist. fic., set in upstate New York in 1924, is full of the fascinating tricks of the trade that scam artists used to make grief-stricken people believe that they were communicating with the dead. I had a ball learning how a few strings, a hidden bell, some low light, and a double-jointed big toe could convince folks that they were really speaking to their beloveds who had “crossed over.” How Annie undermines and breaks free of sly Mama will leave you cheering and feeling grateful that instead of grifters, your parents are just ordinary teachers, stockbrokers, or truck drivers!
How it Happened in Peach Hill by Marthe Jocelyn