By Andrew Roe
Reviewed by SA
Sometimes we all need a book like this in our lives. The Miracle Girl is a book about hope, hope in the worst of situations, and it is sweet and powerful and gorgeous all at once. Yet it stands out far above the rest in the blatantly honest view it has of the world: fair warning, this is no chicken soup for the soul.
Summary – from Goodreads
The crowds keep coming. More and more every day it seems . . . drawn by rumor and whisper and desperate wish. Somehow they heard about the little girl on Shaker Street.” They come to see eight-year-old Anabelle Vincent, who lies in a comalike state–unable to move or speak. They come because a visitor experienced what seemed like a miracle and believed it was because of Anabelle. Word spread. There were more visitors. More miracles. But is there a connection? And does it matter?
Set against the backdrop of the approaching millennium–with all its buzz about reckoning and doom–this impressive debut novel is narrated by Anabelle herself; by her devoted mother, who cares for her child while struggling to make sense of the media frenzy surrounding her; by Anabelle’s estranged father, who is dealing with the guilt of his actions; and by the people who come seeking the child’s help, her guidance, and her healing. Yet it tells a larger cultural story about the human yearning for the miraculous to be true, about how becoming a believer–in something, anything, even if you don’t understand it–can sustain you.
After a serious car accident, Anabelle is in a coma – not exactly a coma, her mother will explain, something very much like a coma, and very complicated – and yet, somehow, she now seems to be the center of miracles. People pray by her, maybe even to her, and they are healed. As word of this ‘Miracle Girl’ spreads, her mother’s life is turned upside down once again, as hundreds of people begin the pilgrimage to see the child. But not everyone believes in her…
You may be saying: “Aw heck, is this a religious book?”, to which I would reply “no, but it is a book about belief.” It’s one of those novels that captures what it is to be human: the way we search for answers and guidance in times of great need. Anabelle’s mother is scrambling for something to believe in; many chose to believe in Annabelle; others chose to believe in God; even more search for rational explanations. But the truth is, everyone just wants something. Maybe the miracle is finding just that.
The novel is not a strictly linear progression through time. The author uses interesting flash backs, as well varieties of points of views, while changing the tone and fluidity of the story to expertly convey emotion. While most of the novel is slow going (not in a bad way, trust me) the focus on character and on human nature is fascinating, to the point where is may even be considered a critique of America itself, so eager to throw their faith at whatever seems to be giving them results… placing this story at the turn of the millennium adds to the point I think the author is trying to make, and I found it quite impressive.
For a novel that will calmly and expertly make you hope again, pick up The Miracle Girl.