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Maybe a Miracle: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Brian Strause
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In this disarming debut, Brian Strause has written a vastly entertaining novel about an American family transfixed by a series of mysterious events. From a comfortable suburb of Columbus, Ohio, emerges a story of rebellion, faith and hope, bridging the cultural gap between those who believe in miracles and those who wish they could.

Monroe Anderson–as quiet on the outside as he is sardonic and alive on the inside–has spent most of his eighteen years trying to fly beneath the radar. If he can remain invisible, he believes, his sadistic older brother, a rising golf star, might not torment him, his workaholic father, a renowned litigator, might not notice him long enough to be disappointed, and his mother might not have to struggle so hard to find a hopeful word. The only people who glimpse the real Monroe are his girlfriend, Emily, and his eleven-year-old sister, Annika.

On the night of his senior prom, Monroe finds Annika floating facedown in the family pool. He dives in and rescues her, but not quickly enough to prevent her from slipping into a coma. As the family copes with this crisis, Monroe’s mother turns to religion, his father turns to liquor, and Monroe himself must decide what’s worth believing in, what’s worth fighting for, and, finally, who he wants to be.

By turns humorous and heartbreaking, personal and sweeping, familiar and extraordinary, Brian Strause’s mesmerizing novel takes readers on an unforgettable emotional journey into America’s heartland.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Strause juxtaposes the caustic and the poignant in his first novel, a pitch-perfect teenage take on human failings and superhuman spectacle in central Ohio. Monroe Anderson, stealing away to smoke pot before his senior prom, discovers his vivacious, sensitive 11-year-old sister, Annika, face down in their pool. He saves her life, but she remains in a coma. A crowd of well-wishers pray beneath Annika's hospital window, and it's not too long before the miracles begin: rose petals rain from the sky; Annika's hands bleed like stigmata. Soon Annika is inspiring letters, pleas and pilgrimages from the nation's sick and grieving, whom Monroe alternately pities and scorns, as he does the family priest who promotes Annika as a latter-day Jesus. The media fuels the frenzy, and Monroe's mother dolls Annika up for her visitors with feverish optimism. Monroe's workaholic father and loutish older brother also reveal their fragilities in the crucible of Annika's prolonged coma, an estranging rather than unifying force. The metaphysical runs up against the mundane with darkly comic ambiguity. "If Annika had the power to heal, wouldn't she heal herself first... and go into the kitchen and make everyone pancakes?" Monroe thinks. Monroe's barbed detachment and biting sarcasm, tempered by the awe that steals over him at unguarded moments, hold the reader even when the plot crawls.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Strause's debut is narrated by 17-year-old Monroe Anderson, who, on the night of his prom, goes out to the pool house to smoke a joint and discovers his younger sister Annika, floating in the pool, not moving. Monroe pulls her out and saves her life, but when Annika is rushed to the hospital, the doctor tells Monroe and his family that she is in a coma, and they can't be sure when she'll wake up. What begins as a family tragedy is writ large when miraculous events start occurring around Annika: rose petals fall from the sky, a stain on a hospital wall takes on the visage of Jesus, and Annika's hands begin to bleed from the palms. Monroe's mother embraces Annika's newfound religious status, his father withdraws from the family, and Monroe isn't sure what to make of it all. Monroe's voice draws the reader in, even if the other characters never quite achieve the depth and complexity he possesses. Crisp writing and a multifaceted, likable central character distinguish this first novel. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 604 KB
  • Print Length: 381 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812975197
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBFT2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,890 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
It is rare these days to be propelled through a novel by the sheer force of wanting to know what will happen next. A young writer who can, through both style and subject, achieve that kind of urgency is a rare find indeed. With his debut novel MAYBE A MIRACLE, Brian Strause proves to be just such a stroke of literary luck. He has developed a plot that is compulsively readable, while also achieving nuanced character development, wit and honesty in his prose.

Strause is a refreshing new voice in the female-dominated world of nuanced and quirky family dramas; tales that are deceptively small-scale --- depicting one family's very unique story --- but nevertheless have resounding impact. Nestled between the lines of this deceptively sweet, fable-esque story, fundamental issues of faith, family, life, death, voyeurism and the media play themselves out. Unlike many a modern novelist, Strause never makes the self-aggrandizing declaration that he will tackle these "big ideas" --- he is never politically preachy or socially smug.

Crucial to this novel's disarming nature --- and one of the key ways to Strause's tackling of grander themes without coming off as pompous or pretentious --- is its narrator, Monroe Anderson. Monroe is an exceptional voice, wry and cynical --- a perfectly believable teenage boy --- but with an innate sweetness that shines through despite his own best intentions. Monroe himself would loathe to be labeled as sweet, to be called optimistic or engaging, and yet readers will find themselves fully devoted to him, allowing him to paint the story as it unfolds. The story starts on the night of his senior prom as Monroe goes into his backyard to smoke a joint before he meets his girlfriend and finds his younger sister floating facedown in the pool.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An elegant , witty and very moving treatise on faith November 6, 2005
By zoopet
From memorable characters to hilarious dialogue and one delightful plot twist after another, "Maybe a Miracle" should, by all rights, become the must-read novel of the new year. At a time when organized religion has coopted words like "faith" and "spirituality," it's nothing short of empowering when Strause effortlessly steals those words back for the rest of us. If you've forgotten how to believe ... well, read this book. You won't be disappointed :)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful writing that tells a great story October 25, 2005
What a gem this book is! With a story as fresh and bizarre as you could hope for, and a young narrator that views the world through prematurely jaded eyes, this wonderful debut novel carries readers along on a weird new path through very familiar landscape. Set in suburban America, the lifestyle and characters are known to us all, but the family tragedy that turns life into an everyday circus makes "Maybe a Miracle" far more compelling than your average family drama. Monroe, the narrator, is a wonderful story teller-- his take on the events that unfold is cynical and wry, but with an unmistakable tenderness and longing for a return to normalcy. He wishes he could be more optimistic about the future of his comatose beloved little sister, but it doesn't seem to be in his nature. However, while he doubts his mother's certainty that Annika is "still in there", just to play it safe he plays Parliament Funkadelic records for her, to balance out the Neil Diamond their mother is blasting her with. His voice and his actions ring true on every page. But truer still are the confessions he makes to us, the readers. He tells us the things he would never speak aloud-- not to his parents, who probably wouldn't listen anyway, and certainly not to his sadistic older brother, who takes every word or action from Monroe as a new opportunity to humiliate and abuse him. But as the readers, we get to hear the whole story-- his bitterness, his fear, and his hope, quickly fading though it is. I found myself cheering him on at times, wanting to throttle him at others, but always caring what happened next. This book is touching, compelling, and very funny. My only disappointment is the book's title; "Maybe a Miracle" is far too lackluster and simpering to really give a reader any glimpse of how cool this book is.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown Away October 19, 2005
This is exactly the book I've been waiting for. I picked up this book two days ago, and just finished it - I kept thinking I should savor it - since the writing is so amazing, but I literally couldn't put it down. I would say that Strause's writing places this book in the category of instant classic: seemingly effortless yet full of rich insight. I imediately identified with the dynamics of a family under unusual strain - adjusting and readjusting to shifting circumstances that are completey unexpected.

But my favorite thing about this book would have to be the narrator - Monroe. He joined the ranks of some of my favorite literary characters, occupying a vaulted place in my imagination-mostly because he made me laugh so hard at times with his searing observations that I was competely exhilirated by meeting him.

I not only recommend this book, I'm stuffing it in several stockings (yeah, they'll get stretched out of shape) this season.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this story November 29, 2005
By Amy C
It's the narrative voice that carries this book. The other characters are not as vivid and sometimes fall into cliches (the brother, particularly), but even then, protagonist Monroe's narration fills the gaps and tells the tale well, and with a dead-on take on teenage ennui that knows everything and nothing at the same time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: DO NOT READ
All this book is is Monroe whining that his sister is in a coma, whining about all the visitors, whining about his brother, whining about his dad, whining about how he isn't... Read more
Published 1 month ago by NoaEliana
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely Lovely
I really enjoyed reading this book. When I bought the book a few years ago, its opening scene stuck with me this whole time. It was certainly memorable! Read more
Published 18 months ago by Yolanda S. Bean
5.0 out of 5 stars Would make a good indie film
Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause was one of the best books I have read in a while. I literally could not put it down! Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by E. Mesker
5.0 out of 5 stars Only book I've read three times
Maybe A Miracle is one of those books that makes you want to keep reading it. There are so many different twists and turns in the plot, and stories inside stories, it keeps you... Read more
Published on April 2, 2011 by A.Peeved
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book.
My best friend and I both read this book and found it funny. There is often a dry sense of humor in the book, so it might not be laugh out loud funny for everyone.
Published on November 23, 2010 by Curshellas
1.0 out of 5 stars HATE IT!!
I do not like the message that this book protrays. Luckily I got this book for 50cents at a garage sale so I am able to be okay with throwing it into the recycle bin (first book I... Read more
Published on November 19, 2009 by Christina Hobbs
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Enjoyable Story
A fun story, with tragedy, miracles, redemption, and romance, seen through the eyes of an older teenage boy (Monroe Anderson), who has a self-acknowledged sardonic side. Read more
Published on November 23, 2007 by Wisdom Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe a Miracle
A lot of people picked this book up thinking it's a Christian novel, but they will be shocked right away. Read more
Published on September 3, 2007 by winkattheduck
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and well-written story with truly thoughtful insight. . .
I see many mixed opinions in the reviews already posted here, but I must say I thought Maybe a Miracle was a very enjoyable read. Read more
Published on July 28, 2007 by K. Caldwell
3.0 out of 5 stars Three-and-a-half stars
I wanted to give this debut novel a 4 star and it almost was but not quite. This novel had moments where it was brilliant but just at that moment Strause would take the storyline... Read more
Published on May 27, 2007 by G. Messersmith
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