Under the Rhode Island summer stars in 1969, a young witch helps three teens. There's
Paul, an awkward boy on the edge of manhood who's trying to understand the world, Ricci, a smooth operator with a love of cars and girls, and Gagger, who relies on jokes as his sword and shield.
A high school bully, D'Ago, steals Gagger's prized ring outside Cece's shop of mystical
oddities. D'Ago is accompanied by a wealthy stranger in a flame-colored Barracuda who has taken up residence in a local castle-like mansion. Cece and the stranger apparently know each other, and questions swirl around both.
Paul's parents have split, and his dad is getting remarried, plus Paul is having trouble
meeting girls, his sister has less time for him, and his big brother is getting into drugs. It's a lot.
Cece faces issues of her own. Her husband, Mitch, is missing in action in Vietnam. Trying
to help Cece discover what's happened, Paul improbably poses as her son before a military panel of inquiry. The deception fails but yields clues about Mitch's disappearance.
The boys work for Phil, a contractor and wounded vet who is attracted to Cece but respects
her situation. The group meets up at a boarding house run by Mrs. Xavier, who lives with a dark secret involving the Great Storm of '38. Also living at the boarding house is LeithLily, a teenage apprentice witch who flirts recklessly with Ricci and others. On the night of the Moon Landing, Cece conducts a regression that reveals Mrs. Xavier's troubled past, leading to a sudden turn of events.
While enjoying summer rites, including riding in classic cars, a poignant night of teen romance at Rocky Point Amusement Park, job hunting, and sailing on Narragansett Bay, Paul bonds with Cece and Phil. The group meets Joni Mitchell at the Newport Folk Festival, and she offers Cece surprisingly helpful advice.
Cece and the boys confront the stranger, Mr. Flint, a wealthy scion who dreams of taking
control of his powerful family. Flint plans to use local boys, including Paul's brother, in a shady business venture unless Cece and the others can stop him.
Paul draws the two factions into a showdown at Flint's mansion, and Cece conducts a
wiccan ceremony aimed at giving Flint everything he wants, which she knows will be his undoing. Flint has seduced LeithLily, however, and they conspire to get Cece arrested. Paul must do some growing up and help Cece, no matter the risk.
Cece and Paul share one brief bittersweet encounter under the last summer Moon before
both make choices that will color their lives forever.
This coming-of-age story turns on soaring successes, crushing failures, empathy, and unapologetic self-agency. Paul and his friends explore Rhode Island's lively shores, its best pizza place, a lighthouse, fabulous mansions, and a castle with something hidden in the cellar, as the story moves towards an emotional catharsis.
Goody Celeste by Chris Riker is about boys with fire in their legs, biking twenty miles to the beach and back and laughing it off. It's about a remarkable woman and those caught in her emotional gravity well. The time that was, whispering to the now we've made; it's in there. A
pinch of wonder, a teaspoon of melancholy, stir in humor to make a witch's brew, a recipe for reflection. It's eating fries with vinegar, listening to folk music, body surfing, driving classic cars, and making choices we cannot take back. A purple door leads into a shop of dangerous wonders, where a cat with mismatched eyes watches foolish humans get themselves tangled in the reins of love.