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M. B. Cashetta‘s debut novel, Miracle Girls opens in the Mohawk Valley, 1973, where children are disappearing. Cee-Cee Bianco is visited by the Virgin Mary, but her brothers see a much darker vision. When the youngest Bianco falls into a coma after witnessing a brutal crime in the woods and Cee-Cee performs a miracle, she is guarded by war-protesting Sisters whose order is not the benign sanctuary it seems.
When Cee-Cee closes her eyes, she can suddenly see all the missing girls in the Mohawk Valley. It’s part of the message: they are buried in wheat fields and stashed behind train tracks, or sprawled at the bottom of the canal. Could have been you, one dead girl says, smart-mouthed. But instead it was me! A live one tied up somewhere in a basement cocks her head: But, guess what—you’re next!
Cee-Cee tries to focus, but a terrible headache rises from the back of her neck, as if someone has struck her there. She should take her medicine, but Mrs. Patrick took away the pink bottles. In the thicket overhead, the branches are picked clean as bones, no longer swaying. Now she steps back until her heels butt up against the fat oak tree.
In the woods, everything is silent. Even the trees stand still.
Mary Beth Caschetta is a recipient of the W.K. Rose Fellowship for Emerging Artists, the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award, and the Seattle Review Prize for fiction. Her stories have appeared inSmall Spiral Notebook, Mississippi Review, Del Sol Review, and Red Rock Review, Bloom, Thieves Jargon, Ecclectica, and Blithe House Quarterly, among others. She is the author of a book of short stories, which Ms. Magazine called “a spectacular collection…a sensitive and telling portrait of contemporary American Life….” Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Body & Soul Magazine, and print anthologies published by St. Martin’s Press, The Feminist Press, Avon Books, and The Other Press. She lives in Massachusetts. This is her first novel.
Follow M. B. Cashetta on Twitter: @caschetta.