Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Probability of Miracles, Wendy Wunder

The Probability of MiraclesWhen Campbell's father died, he left her $1,262.56- as much as he'd been able to sock away during his twenty-year gig as a fire dancer for the "Spirit of Aloha" show at Disney's Polynesian hotel.

"Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to doe, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. B in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promisut it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles."

The Probability of Miracles wasn't a very realistic book about cancer, as you can probably (ha) tell from the title, but I did enjoy it, and it's certainly a feel-good read, with a very sad ending. The Fault in Our Stars is the more realistic and heartbreaking "cancer book", but Wendy Wunder's debut novel had its points too. I enjoyed the writing, which was easy to get into, and the dry humor that pervaded the book, mainly coming from the main character, Cam. She was an interesting mix; some parts of her were really appealing, such as her wry humor, cynicism, belief in rationality, and fairly clear-eyed view of things. However, she was also kind of cruel and irresponsible: one of the things on her flamingo list was to "kill her little sister's dreams". Others included shoplifting, and having her heart broken. Really? It was kind of odd, but you can't really blame her, though; after all, she's ostensibly about to die, and she wants to experience all of the things she thinks she's supposed to experience in life. But that's of course where the miracles come in, although a bit differently than one might expect.

There were some bizarre but funny parts of the book, such as the pervasive flamingos and the hijinks Cam gets up to both in Promise and before she gets there. I find it kind of unrealistic that she would get away with stealing some lip balm when in fact the person working there saw her take it, but she does. It's not quite so easy with the plastic flamingo, however. 

Parts of the book were pretty predictable, such as the whole thing with Tweety (no major spoilers). However, I was fairly certain that Tweety wouldn't stay lost, because hey, this is a book all about miracles and unexpected circumstances. There were also a couple of typical YA elements, and the storylines of this book and many other YA books (even ones that don't deal with cancer) could be blurred and confused very easily. Unlike The Fault in Our Stars. (Alright, stop comparing this book with a John Green novel. Nothing else young adult can compare to a John Green novel). Anyway, a part of the book that kind of redeemed it was its quirkiness; the beginning is set in Florida and there's all this bizarre Disney-related stuff. Sometimes it was a bit too much, but that and the flamingos made the book more distinctive than it would have been otherwise. It was overall a pretty beautiful story, and Cam was interesting character, although not as developed as I would have liked.

The Probability of Miracles reminded me a bit of The Running Dream, in that both are unrealistically optimistic and feel-good for the most part, but still moving all the same. There are really sad parts of the story though, and really touching sequences, and the ending was certainly different than what I was expecting.

The Probability of Miracles was a lovely story, and in spite of everything, I really related to Cam, perhaps a bit more than Hazel. It's a book full of feeling and discovery, and it does get under your skin and do things to your emotion, if not as much as other books whose titles will not be mentioned.

357 pages.

Rating: ****

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