Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Magic America” as Want to Read:
Magic America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Magic America

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Hope lives in an alternative Trenton, New Jersey of the 1980s where radioactive cats, congenital tattoos, biker angels, cocky fairy godmothers and the determination to survive another day are all that stand between her family and the creeping chemical forces of LoboChem, a manufacturer willing to destroy all that is beautiful for the sake of a profit.

Magic America is a s
Paperback, 1st edition, 244 pages
Published July 2nd 2014 by CreateSpace
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Magic America, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
C.E. I wrote it from the perspective of an adult looking back, but while there have been both adults and teens who have responded very positively, I think …moreI wrote it from the perspective of an adult looking back, but while there have been both adults and teens who have responded very positively, I think the book has been most widely embraced by women in their 20's (essentially the age of the protagonist at the end of the novel).(less)
Tortoise Stew by P.C. ZickMagic America by C.E. MedfordCatori's Worlds by Murielle CyrTrails in the Sand by P.C. ZickA Sudden Light by Garth Stein
Environmental Novels
70 books — 116 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniWater for Elephants by Sara GruenThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Best for Book Clubs
7,566 books — 13,853 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  368 ratings  ·  44 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Magic America
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've never read anything like C.E Medford's Magic America, where a headstrong fairy godmother can be found in the most unexpected places as a family. In a city where a blind eye has been turned on corporate greed, environmental abuse, and disregard for human life, we get to see some of the most profound integrity and courage in its underdogs. This is an engrossing novel with keen observations on growing up, being poor, being alone, and choosing to fight in a world that wants you to feel powerles ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
'My' America became Magic with this book. It's spoken to me with the voice I love: a girl, who wants to make it in the world, who wants to live her dream but also keep her spirit. I love this girl, Hope. I follow the choices she makes, and I trust her completely. She takes me on the road and I enjoy every curve, every stop. And she does it with style, the powerful mixture of vulnerability, strength and magic. ...more
Angie Roux
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Magic America is an enchanting dance between real and surreal, with characters you want to find waiting for you every day on your front steps. It’s a wonderful demonstration of how everyone’s broken in some way, and that getting healed or fixed often just means borrowing what you need from others who aren’t broken in quite the same way. I thoroughly enjoyed C.E. Medford’s writing and especially the way she is able to capture, in a single sentence, the width and depth of a moment, whether somber ...more
Tara Gajano
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
C.E. Medford is a gifted story teller. Magic America is an enticing blend of fantasy and gritty reality. I kept finding myself rushing through the book to find out what happens next & then catching myself & going back slowly to enjoy the words. Great Book!
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this little gem of a book, which defies classification. It's a coming of age story, sure, but it's also a little bit magical and a little bit surreal and a whole lot charming. Biker gangs, congenital tattoos, toxic waste, wolf-dogs and romance--it's utterly unique. ...more
Lesley Hayes
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
C.E. Medford says of her writing: “There must be story, and breathless moments; colour and fire. There must be characters I want to know, who become so real to me that I miss them when I am not writing.” Better than anything else I can say about it, these words sum up perfectly the effect her book ‘Magic America’ had on me. I began reading it with no idea really what to expect. The synopsis promised a story about “coming of age in fluorescent, urbo-suburban, magic-realism America.” I was intrigu ...more
This book...

What to say about a story like this? It is one tinged with magic, with hope and wishing. With fight and strength Love, family, regrets and promise.

This book made me cry, made me smile, made me angry and laugh and hope right along with Hope, who is not only one of the most steadfast and dimensional characters I've had the pleasure of reading about, but also one of the brightest. Her courage and heart carried me through her years growing up in Trenton New Jersey with her adopted family
megan freeburn
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i really needed to read something wonderful and (yet?) modern- something to reassure me that great writing didn't end when the new millennium rolled around- something that didn't shy away from using modern points of reference but didn't specifically focus on them to demonstrate how 'cool' the book is- magic america was exactly what i needed to read ...more
Doug Erhard
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very pleasantly surprised

Found this book for quite friend, and turned out I read it one day. Great characters. truly written. Lovely.
Christopher Williams
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
With the soft edges and ethereal transitions, reality melts away and the reader finds themselves exploring Magic America alongside of Hope. There is a poetic flavor to Magic America that breathes life into every exchange and weaves a thread between the characters that leaves us longing for friends like Rooster and Freak Eddie. With a final sentence Magic America does the impossible and wraps a bow not only around Magic America but around the story of our lives. C.E. Medford is the new Neil Gaima ...more
Daniel Suarez
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This was one of the best books I've read. There are lots of magical elements, thrilling stories with bikers and werewolves. It was a great adventure from childhood to adulthood. That was a pleasure to read it and see the evolution of a human being and what is most important to each of us: friends. Totally worth it. ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century, sff
I saw many reviewers praising the prose, and since I tend to be a rather literary reader, I thought I'd pick this novel up.

I was surprised, and not in a good way.

While I can appreciate the overall idea and intellectually understand the themes the author attempts to develop, the execution just isn't there. Ultimately the characters and setting feel flat and uninteresting. Additionally, I often had difficulty following the book as a whole.

Jon Langley
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a real pleasure. It creates a magical little world all of its own. Familiar but just a little unfamiliar and pulls you into it. It invites you to take interest in and care about the characters and you do.
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Medford has adeptly and beautifully tapped into the complex emotions and perspective of a child of a broken home. It's a fantasy-touched coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of industrial suburbia, a place full of loose toxic chemicals and archetypal villains.

Medford's "Hope" experiences the depressed Trenton, New Jersey in which she lives, as a character, just as much as she does her family and friends, and her sensitive handling of the trauma inflicted on children by abuse is riv
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
"If you're a reader who likes to find those novels that aren't quite like anything else. This is the book for you. I was in turns reminded of Armistead Maupin, Bulgakov and Anne Tyler. Sound weird? It is. The good kind of weird." - Jake Isles, review from

"Oh I loved this book! Cyndi Lauper meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a fluoro 80s mash-up somewhere in New Jersey. Unmissable." - Anna Hope, author of 'WAKE'

"This is a truly original novel. C E Medford creates
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Magic America was a great read and I had trouble putting it down. Having grown up in the area, I loved all the references to places both familiar and dear. I loved C.E.'s twist on New Jersey, it made me look at these places with a different viewpoint, Hope was a wonderfully written character, one that makes the reader root for her from page 1. I truly hope there is a second book, and I am confident that C.E. will continue have a strong following. Definitely a writer to watch! ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Needed an editor. I liked the plot idea. The characters were potentially interesting. But the writing had typos and so many errors it took me out of the story. I don't know how such a short book could ramble, but it did go on tangents. It wasn't magical enough and it didn't have enough realism either. ...more
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
The first part of this book was great, but when the MC grew up, the whole story seemed to go off track. I found myself skimming over a lot of it. The storyline seemed convoluted and the characters seemed disconnected.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book provided a unique perspective very different from anything I have read before and I like the idea of bringing magical realism and the environment together. However the author needed a good editor. Too many mistakes in this book, grammar and just plain pulling the story together to make sense. I think the main character was also not developed very well whereas some of the other characters were developed quite well, for example - Rooster and Noelle. In general this book would have been s ...more
Stephanie Piston
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Take a ride with author C.E. Medford back to the 80's and the age of neon colors, sky high hair, and a girl named Hope coming of age in NJ. This story was a treat, brought back great memories of my youth and the times. C.E. Medford eloquently captures the vibe of this decade and gives the reader a colorful description of the characters; you can't help but get swept away. Look forward to C.E. Medford's next book!!
Kat Antinoro
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I enjoyed this book immensely! The story was engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat. C.E. Medford wrote a story that will appeal to everyone. The locations, the people all intriguing. If your from the Trenton area you will recognize a lot of the locations and if you grew up with us, you will recognize a lot of the characters. Love love love this book!!
Betty Booklover
I love the way Hope thinks. The narrative made me feel I was part of the story. I felt scared, happy, and sad along with Hope. I wish I had her fairy godmother around during tough times when I was growing up!
Liza Schuck
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Modern, retro, fantasy realism....... all rolled up together! Beautifully written and well told. Twist and turns and emotional connections throughout really made me get lost in this book quickly and easily and kept me wanting more!
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Had to read this for English class. I thought the magical realism was interesting, but the story was often confusing at times by the author's failure to properly flesh out details and scenes. The actions scenes were not well written. However, this book did manage to keep my interest. ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. I thought that this book was a wonderful coming of age story that I plan to share with my 3 teenage children....keep up the good work. I can't wait to read more!
Thea Bennett
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
American author CE Medford (now resident in the UK) is definitely one to watch. Magic America is like nothing else I've read. An effortless recreation of a young girl's coming-of-age in New Jersey, packed with true-to-life characters and descriptions laid down in exquisite prose, it dances between realism and magic realism with pace and with grace. I couldn't put it down, leaping from page to page with my heart in my mouth. Can't wait for the next work from this author.
Jozie Jewelz
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*Full review posted on my blog at*

The choose-your-own-reality nature of existence has always fascinated me. It's the reason that, though I never took physics in school, I looked to quantum theory for comfort after the death of a friend, and it may be why magic realism has a special appeal for me. Don't get me wrong- I like fantasy. Still, I find myself even more drawn to stories where, rather than journeying into an extraordinary world, the characters experience magic as just one
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is the first time I'm giving a bad rating, so I'd better explain myself. Keep in mind that this is subjective and that this is only my view of the novel; other people may have gotten a different feeling while reading it.

I was looking for a magic realist novel and thought Magic America was a good addition to my list, as it deals with environmentalist issues. However, I had several problems with the book. I don't think I'll be able to be vague enough to avoid spoilers!

One of them was inconsi
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This took me a while to get into but I kind of liked it by the end, it's quite dark for a coming of age story, lots of bad stuff happens. ...more
Keith Wilson
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love it when an author has a quirky, unusual way of looking at the world. There are images in this book I'll never forget. It's weird. It's wonderful. I'm so glad I read it. ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
  • The Dharma Bums
  • A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom up
  • Hell's Angels
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Clapton: The Autobiography
  • Harry the K: The Remarkable Life of Harry Kalas
  • What Happened
  • Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties
  • The Rum Diary
  • One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow
  • The Body
  • Stay
  • Words are our Sorcery
  • The Genocides
  • A Year and a Day in Old Theradane
  • Train Dreams
See similar books…
Born in Queens, NYC, C.E. Medford spent her adolescent years in New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn Heights. In Brooklyn, she attended several writing workshops taught by Greg Lichtenberg. In 2001 she moved to London, England where she later completed an M.A. with honours in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. She currently resides in London with her husband and son. Magic America ...more

News & Interviews

The last five years of world history have been nothing if not...eventful. When living in interesting times, there's nothing better for...
0 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The bank man had been standing quietly by our picnic table, waiting to lock up the house. Around his waist he wore a live rattlesnake for a belt. Behind it, his stomach was a black hole of hunger.” 5 likes
“Our house was inside a black halo, thin as a soap bubble. Everything was squeezing in on us and everything was about to burst.” 4 likes
More quotes…