Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Book review: The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

My edition: Paperback, published in 2012 by Razorbill, 357 pages.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Cammpbell doesn't believe in miracles. She's spent the last five years in and out of hospitals, so she can be forgiven if she's a little sceptical.

But Campbell's mother and sister won't give up on her, and they've heard rumours of a place in Maine where magical things happen: fish raining from the sky, purple dandelions, everlasting sunsents. A place named Promise. Yes, really.

Campbell may be cynical, but she still has hope. And so they head to Promise for a Summer by the sea, where Cam finally learns to believe in true love, in herself and maybe even in miracles.

Rating:



Reading the back cover I realised that main character Cam would be battling an illness throughout the novel, what I hadn't anticipated however was that this would be cancer. My mother has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and I have put many a book aside at even the mere mention of the word because I didn't want to be confronted with it when trying to escape inside a novel. So because of that, The Probability of Miracles and I weren't off to a very good start and I really had to force myself to read past the first few pages.

I'm glad I didn't give up on it easily though as it was far from the doom and gloom novel I expected it to be based purely on the subject matter. Instead it's a quirky and surprisingly uplifting read. Not because of main character Cam, whose negativity isn't all that surprising considering the fact that she's spent a large part of her life being ill and fighting a seemingly already lost battle, but because of the colourful circumstances and people that cross her path along the way.

Cam already has a rather magical background, having grown up in Disney World with her mother and sister Perry, and this only becomes even more fantastical when her mother in a burst of spontaneity decides to pack up their belongings and move the family to a place where miracles seem to happen; Promise, Maine.

Promise can only be found when using very specific directions ("The main road to Promise is behind the Dunkin' Donuts off of Route 3, and you can only see it from the drive-through squawk box. People say it's good luck to order a whoopie pie and some chocolate milk before driving into town."). It's a hidden gateway to a place where miraculous things happen; a place with flamingos in the snow and everlasting sunsets.

Unfortunately I didn't quite connect to the characters on an emotional level, like with recent favourite contemporary young adult novels The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay (with which I mean that the book didn't tug on my heart strings up until the point that I had to put it down for a while to recover), but The Probability of Miracles certainly makes up for whatever else it lacks with its sheer quirkiness and the uniqueness of Promise, which not only makes the characters but also the reader believe that miracles in fact do exist. And as long as they do, there is always hope.

Many thanks to Penguin Books for the review copy.

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