March 19, 2012 by Heidi
Author: Wendy Wunder[Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Published: December 8th, 2011 by Razorbill
Format: Hardcover; 357 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Challenge: Completely Contemp Challenge.Cam is running out of time, and running out of options. She’s spent the past seven years in and out of hospitals, undergoing treatments and tests, and finally the medical world has declared there’s nothing more to be done. Her mother refuses to believe this and begins pushing Cam to try all sorts of treatments–herbs, acupuncture, and most ridiculous of all, moving to Promise, Maine. Promise is apparently known for miracles, so Cam, her mom, and her sister Perry pack up and head out, hoping for a miracle of their own. Perry and their mother seem to see the miraculous in all things, whereas Cam can only see the coincidence. Though maybe, it’s the coincidences that matter. With one summer to complete her flamingo list, Cam learns to reach out, love, and live with Promise and hope.
This book took its sweet time worming its way into my heart. In the beginning, I found myself as cynical as Cam, though not identifying with her. She annoyed me a bit at times, as she’s fairly judgey, and while I am equally judgey, it’s not about the same things and thus I judged her. Does that even make sense? Meh. Cam has closed off her heart to possibilities and hope, knowing that she has a finite amount of time left to live. As the town of Promise and its inhabitants slowly pried open Cam’s cynical heart and infused her with life, The Probability of Miracles did the same for me. I was so resistant to this book, I’m not sure why, but it completely won me over by the end and left me feeling oddly comforted.
I loved the multicultural aspects of this book, and found they made Cam more accessible. Her family is an array of culture; her mother is Italian, her father was Somoan, her little sister’s father was Norwegian, and her mother’s boyfriend is Japanese. At one point Asher (yes, of course there’s a boy *wink*) comments that Cam doesn’t live her culture, she performs it, and I found this to be one of the most beautiful sentiments of the book. It seems incredibly cheesy but fitting that Cam and her sister essentially grew up at Disney World. How sweet is that? Can you imagine? Childhood me is fuming with jealousy. Adult me still hates Florida and thinks it is a 90’s time-warp, but still…
Physically, Cam describes herself as ‘cancerexic’ and speaks negatively towards super skinny body types. I know, some girls can’t help being skinny, but some starve themselves to be that way and I love seeing a positive image towards feeding oneself! She was formerly heavier, and now keeps her hair cut short ignoring stereotypes that come with her chosen style. Finally, Cam’s relationships with the other women in her family, her mother, her grandma, and her sister are enviable and strong whether she knows it or not, and the connections she makes in Promise show her to have a warm and welcoming heart she thought she’d closed long ago.
What initially seemed like it was going to be the next screenplay for a Hallmark Movie Channel special (okay, yes, I do watch a lot of those at Christmas and enjoy them), turned out to be a deeply moving book that blurred the lines between optimism and cynicism. It’s about having something be about something other than a sickness when that sickness is all you have, and that is everything.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: This was a lovely debut, and I would certainly read more from Wendy Wunder…preferably if it’s not about cancer.
Recommended for: Cynics, optimists, hula dancers. You can read the first 5 chapters of The Probability of Miracles here!
Real life repercussions of reading this book: Riptide Rush really is the best flavor of Gatorade! Gotta get me some of that…