In upstate New York, young girls go missing, nuns are revolting, Nixon is resigning, and young Cee-Cee Bianco has visions of the Virgin Mary in this polished debut novel.
Ten-year-old Cee-Cee has a broken family: Father Frank goes on drunken benders, mother Glory runs away for weeks at a time, middle brother Roadie is wracked with guilt over his burgeoning homosexuality, and eldest Anthony is…a little off. Cee-Cee and Baby Pauly cling to each other, as close as twins. One cold day Anthony lures the kids into the woods behind the house, and as something terrible, miraculous, mysterious happens to Cee-Cee there, a chorus of saints advises her on how to save Pauly, who has fallen into a frozen pond while running for help. Cee-Cee eventually wakes from a fever, but Pauly, alive despite spending hours under the ice, is at a rehabilitation center on life support. Cee-Cee is brought to live with her Nonna, who lives across from the Sisters of the Order of Christ’s Most Precious Wounds; with her visions and messages, Cee-Cee is a favorite of the nuns, particularly the Mother General, Sister Amanda. Sister Amanda, secretly working for a number of progressive causes (and suspected by the FBI of building bombs), funnels an army of young women, always in pairs and all called Miranda, through Nonna’s spare room before moving them on to some other task. Girls disappear, Cee-Cee’s friend Mary Margaret keeps burying baby brothers and sisters, Roadie claims Cee-Cee’s attacker wore a blue jacket just like Father Giuseppe, but the dangers “out there” feel much closer, more threatening, and it’s up to Cee-Cee to find the truth, which might take a miracle.
Short story writer (Lucy on the West Coast, 1996) Caschetta’s first novel is filled with a kind of dark poetry and the menace of ordinary evils.