The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan

Steve Wiley. Lavender Line, $14.99 (250p) ISBN 978-0-9981492-1-9

Debut author Wiley’s name is only mentioned in the back matter, so readers may wonder whether his whimsical novel is in fact written by young, blue-haired Francesca Finnegan. The hero is called either Richard or Rich, depending on his place in his process of learning about himself and the history of Chicago. As Richard, a miserable, wealthy “vice president of something,” he believes the city’s past has been accurately recorded by dusty historians in their tedious books. As Rich, a teen boy who travels on a special lavender train with Francesca, he learns the fantastical truths about Chicago. She explains that the city of Chicago was built by magic and wind, and corrects all of the pedantic “real-world” lies. The talented author takes admirable risks with this enchanting tale of magic, self-exploration, and growing up by remembering one’s youth. There are illustrations, too, as in any proper fairy tale. This is a book for intelligent adult readers who love a playful escape into teenage fantasies of fleeting first kisses, exceptional Ferris wheels, extraordinary cocktails, and a castle that has the sky’s stars for a ceiling. (BookLife)