. Copyright © 2018 by Michael Haibach.
A BOOK REVIEW
AMAZING GRACIE BY MICHAEL HAIBACH
Carole A. Briggs, Curator
Jefferson County History Center, Brookville, PA
I usually don’t write to authors, but I did write to Michael Haibach after finishing his book and said, “I think I would have liked your grandmother. I favor strong women!”
The book, Amazing Gracie, published this year, is the story of his grandmother’s childhood, youth, and marriage. It is the story of a woman with a secret, and that secret took place in Jefferson County!
Haibach contacted me years ago, in 1990 when the historical society was located on Jefferson Street and I had just been named curator. He’d found an article about convicted felons William and Frank Dodson. Did we have any information about the murder they’d committed in 1896? I passed his question on to members Bill and Vada McCracken, and they went to work.
It was their work as well as that of member Emma Work that helped Haibach flesh out the mystery hidden behind his grandmother’s slate blue eyes.
He’s woven that secret and the events that secret caused into a suspenseful yet delightful tale of two young women stepping out into the society of pre-World War I Pittsburgh, the city of the Schenley Hotel, Schenley Park, and Phipps Conservatory and the homes of people like Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon.
Haibach’s writing is descriptive of these people and places. Our county courthouse is indeed “the two-story red brick structure with its white colonial steeple and looming clock tower….” While C. C. Benscoter, at the age of forty-five, may or may not have been “grey-whiskered,” local readers should not be put off by minor errors in the setting and character descriptions. Living across the country in West Hollywood, Haibach’s story rings true.
In the final three chapters of the book, Haibach explains how the book came about, but it is his epilogue that is worthy of rereading. What did he take away from this woman, his grandmother, who lived a lie, reinventing herself after the traumatic events of her early life?
Amazing Gracie is an inspiring read. Grace Dodson Haibach is an inspiring person—a strong woman. I think readers will find her inspiring, too.
Copies of Amazing Gracie are available for purchase at the Jefferson County History Center. And also available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kindle.
My journey into writing AMAZING GRACIE was very much like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together to finally reveal the hidden truth. A stunning portrait of a young girl who survives the shocking destruction of her poor-yet-loving family, and rises to become a woman of strength, courage, tenacity.