Sunday 5 August 2012

218. The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Published July 2012 Penguin

From the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Campbell doesn't believe in miracles. She's spent the last seven years in and out of hospitals, so she's pretty sceptical.

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

So they head to Promise for a holiday by the sea, where Cam meets mysterious neighbour Asher, a crazy donkey called James and a puppy who's a survivor.  In Promise Cam learns to believe in true love, in herself, and maybe even in miracles.

Firstly I will say that on the title page of the book it gives a few lines about the author, and YES apparently, Wendy Wunder is her real name.  A name like that just begs to be put on the front of a book.  This is a book about a teenager with cancer, a teenager dying of cancer, there have been a number of books with the same subject matter, but they all manage to tackle it slightly differently.  I usually need to have my tissues with me when I start a book  like this, but I didn't feel the need when I started this one.  It has it's moments, but it's really quite a quirky upbeat story about living life, not about dying.

So many things I liked about this book.  Firstly they live in Florida, and grew up with Disney World as their playground.  With both of their parents working at Disney World, the family can come and go as they please.  Secondly is the place where the majority of the story is set, Promise.  Promise is a 'secret' town, it's almost impossible to find, and the directions involve placing an order at the Dunkin Donut's drive though, maneuvering the car around the dumpster and driving into the bushes.  

Campbell has been told that her cancer has spread, and there is no treatment for her.  Her Mother Alicia refuses to give up, so when she hears of a town where miracles can happen they pack up their stuff and head to Promise, Maine.  On the way they make two stops, one to Cam's friend Lily, who also has cancer, this visit doesn't end so well, and the second to Cam's Nana's, where she breaks into a church yard. 

There arrival in Promise seems to be blessed from the get go, as within minutes of their arrival they find a beautiful house to stay in for the summer.  Promise is a beach side town, where the sun literally rises and sets in the same place, there are purple dandelions, a lost flock of flamingo's and a resident vet who is also sheriff, head librarian, antiques dealer and postmaster.  If miracles were ever going to happen, this would be the place.

As in many of these books, Campbell has a 'list', hers is a flamingo list (that was her cabin name at camp).  Cam's list is quite unique in that the acts are not particularly positive, such as 'lose my virginity at a keg party' and 'get heartbroken by an asshole'.  Without really trying too hard Cam manages to tick everything off her list, but she manages to do so much more along the way.

During the summer, it's easy to believe that Promise really might hold a miracle cure, because Cam feels more alive that ever, but while we might want to believe in miracles, they rarely happen in real life.  

I loved the characters in this book, I loved the setting, I loved the fact that Cam had a great first love and an amazing summer.  It isn't a sickly sweet book about a teenager dying, it's a book about a teenager living and trying to do all of that living in the space of one summer.  She is a normal teenager; she makes mistakes, falls in love, fights with her mother, fights with her sister, she just happens to have cancer.

Who will like this book: Girls age 15+
Read it if you like: The Fault In Or Stars by John Green

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