Alternately told in remembrance by Grace Mitchell, a mature woman, and in Grace's unique, real-time voice at age eight, GOING ON NINE falls into the women's fiction genre. Set in an era as fabled as it was flawed, each chapter is a story unto itself, peopled with characters of all ages in turning-point situations.
The story opens when eight-year-old Grace swipes her mother's ring, snatches her sister's nightgown, and runs outside to play "bride." In short order, she loses the ring, rips the gown, correctly assumes it’s about to rain daggers, and runs away from home to find a 'better' family. What happens next is a summer-long meander in which Grace Townsend travels on foot and by horseback, rides shotgun in a shiny new Plymouth Belvedere, hunkers in the back of a rattletrap vegetable truck, crawls deep into a crumbling tunnel, treks out to a fire in the hinterlands, explores the closet of a prom queen, keeps vigil in the bedroom of a rape victim, and helps tame a killer dog. Those are a few of the reasons Grace will remember the summer of 1956 for the rest of her life.
GOING ON NINE is peppered with humor and leavened with adversity, nostalgic but not cloying. One chapter was selected to appear in the 2012 Outrider Press Anthology, and singled out for mention in Booklist’s favorable review. In tone, time, and setting, Going on Nine could be compared with Kaye Gibbons' Ellen Foster or the late Terry Ryan's The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.
Fitzpatrick is a former award-winning newspaper feature writer and the author of a previous novel, also set in St. Louis, where she spent her childhood. Her essays, articles, and short stories have been published in national magazines, anthologies, and literary web sites. Her account of news reporting from Lower Manhattan during the World Trade Center attacks has been accessioned into the Missouri State Historical Society collections. She am a board member of the Chicago-based TallGrass Writers Guild.
A Matter of Happenstance (2010, Plain View Press) was well received by readers, librarians, and book clubs, and she has done several readings in Naples, Bonita Springs, and Estero. She and her husband divide their time between Milwaukee/Chicago and our home in Bonita Springs.