- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616205326
- ISBN-13: 978-1616205324
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,940,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Miracle Girl: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2016
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“A treatise on modern religion and theology as well as a stunning exegesis of the world beyond our empirical nature, it is above all a wonderful study and story of the multi-faceted, often miraculous sides of human nature.”—Author Exposure
“Roe creates characters who feel real, who are beautiful and flawed and full of desire and regret and love and pain. He brings us into a world where terrible things happen to ordinary people and it’s hard not to want a miracle girl to save them. And, because we recognize this world, we want that miracle girl to be real, to save us, too.” —Arizona Daily Sun
“[A] “winning debut . . . Roe's story feels just right for our desperate and despairing time, when a miracle--any miracle--will do . . . Lively, pitch-perfect and assured.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Roe’s exploration of the need for belief makes for a strong debut.” —Booklist
“While the novel features a cast of lovable losers and fortune's fools right out of a Nathanael West novel, Roe's takes on hope, faith, and our willingness to believe makes The Miracle Girl a memorable debut.”—San Diego CityBeat
“An uplifting debut.” —Coastal Living
“Andrew Roe’s novel struggles to contain the breadth of the author’s talent. There is a precision and purpose in each sentence. The characters are steeped in complexity. These are people we all know, struggling with both the familiar and the magnificent. A stunning and captivating debut.” —Jason Mott, author of The Wonder of All Things
“To believe or not to believe--that is the question facing all who are touched by Annabelle, the comatose ‘miracle girl’ at the swirling center of Andrew Roe's dazzling debut. But The Miracle Girl is more than an exploration of the mysteries of faith. It's also the unforgettable story of one family's struggle against tragedy. The result is an uplifting miracle of a book.” —Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home
“In Andrew Roe's The Miracle Girl, we're reminded that the desire for miracles always connotes dissatisfaction, even as it articulates a hope. Roe deftly explores this paradox with clean, sharp prose; the novel's intuitive, shifting structure (providing not only different character's perspectives but press releases, documents, and, really productively, comments on web message boards) generates a multifaceted exploration into what it means to believe. Also, Roe's novel examines the strange responsibility of being believed in. A stunning, confident debut.” —Peter Rock, author of The Shelter Cycle
“Look at Andrew Roe’s The Miracle Girl from one angle and you’ll see an incisive and insightful critique of America at the millennium and today, investigating where we put our faith and why. The greatest of Roe’s achievements in this captivating debut is a memorable feat of intense empathy. Roe inhabits characters who are desperate to believe and reveals to us their needs and wounds and hopes, and he does so with kindness, generosity, and wisdom. This is a novel about what it means to be human, to seek connection and hope and maybe even transcendence in the world around us.” —Doug Dorst, co-author of S
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This book centers on a seven-year-old child suffering from akinetic mutism. The girl, Anabelle Vincent, remains motionless and mute in a coma-like state. She’s being cared for in her parents’ home in a drab, lower-middle-class neighborhood of inland Los Angeles. The child needs a ventilator to breathe and other medical paraphernalia to help with digestion and elimination. She needs to be turned frequently to avoid bedsores and to have routine physical therapy to prevent muscle wasting. Although her eyes remain open (yet blinking), she appears unresponsive to stimuli.
The book opens six months after the accident that caused the condition. Her mother and a small cadre of volunteers care for Anabelle at home around the clock. The mother, Karen, is a physical and mental wreck. John, the child’s father, has psychologically broken down under the emotional strain of constant care giving and walked out on his family. He’s wandering the country, getting odd jobs wherever he can and sending virtually all his earnings home in anonymous envelopes. He is a broken man in utter despair.
Then little miracles start happening, first one thing, and then another. Eventually, word gets out that Anabelle is a child who can work miracles. Visitors start claiming that the child can cure their ills, mend their hearts, or answer their prayers. Soon, her story has mushroomed into a media sensation. There are interviews on the evening news, talk show appearances, CNN, and other special reports. And in L.A., of course, someone starts writing a TV script for a prime-time docudrama. What was once a small trickle of visitors, turns into a flood. A poor, cheerless Los Angeles neighborhood turns into a long line of respectful visitors, each waiting his or her turn to be with the child, if only for a brief few moments.
How hungry humanity is for hope! The child becomes a conduit for hope. For many, that is enough.
What is remarkable about this book is its characters. The father is particularly memorable and well-drawn. He’s definitely the book’s main character. But there are many strong and fascinating true-to-life secondary characters. Anabelle’s miracle of hope affects each differently. All of their stories are the kindling that feeds the theme. These stories are also the fodder satisfying the reader’s interest. This is a book of many intersecting stories with a single theme.
Andrew Roe’s writing has strong emotional depth. The book kept my attention easily and I finished it in two days. The author’s characters are remarkably authentic. In fact, it’s hard not to believe that each exists in real life. When you reach the end of the book, the author reveals that the plot was based, in very small part, upon a similar real-life event that occurred in Worcester, Massachusetts in the mid-1990s. That was the case of the fraudulent miracle child Audrey Santo. To Roe’s credit, he neither supports nor denies Anabelle’s miracles. Readers can view her miracles anyway they choose.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In particular, I found it both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. I recommend it highly to anyone who is particularly interested in this theme.
The author tells the story from the vantage point of multiple rather ordinary and “familiar” characters connected in some way to the Miracle Girl - and exposes their virtues and flaws without judging them. Some are convinced of divine intervention while others are skeptics. The novel can work for you regardless of your own spiritual or lack-of-spiritual belief tendencies. This is mainly an exploration of human nature.
A short way into the book, I began to start guessing which way the story might go, what would ultimately become of the girl’s family - and the Miracle Girl herself. Like most well-conceived stories, I felt “vested” and wanted to get to its conclusions. Don’t underestimate the possibilities of the subject. There is a lot about the human condition in this story.
Late 1990s Southern California itself is also a character in this book - and being a resident here myself, the multiple cultural references to the region made for fun reading and is a rich resource that probably has not yet been explored in literature often-enough.
The author also has some fun diversions - for example constructing a period website, including how users might have posted comments.
The Kindle version of this book contains a short added “Note from the Author” with a personal anecdote that adds some meaning to how the subject touched the author’s own life, and may spark a thought about how it has touched yours as well. Don't neglect to read this after you have finished the novel.
Most recent customer reviews
Not "my cup of tea", to say the least. The subject of the book sounded like it would be right up my alley but this book did not...Read more