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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Miracle Stealer by Neil Connelly

The Miracle Stealer
Andi Grant adores her 6-year-old brother Daniel, a "miracle child" who fell down a mine shaft and survived. People regularly come to him for blessings and healings (which sometimes seem to work), and Andi is horrified by his exploitation, esp. when she finds signs of a stalker around their home. With the help of her once-and-maybe-future boyfriend Jeff, she comes up with a plan so audacious, so dramatic, it will stop the attention on Daniel forever: an "Anti-Miracle" that will unravel with the slightest examination of the facts, and cast doubt on Daniel's powers forever after.

As her plan comes together, the stalker draws closer, and the clock ticks toward Daniel's star turn at the local Paradise Days celebration, Andi finds herself wrestling with her own beliefs in God and her brother, and wondering if what she really needs is . . . a miracle.

First Look: ***** Wasn't quite sure what this one would be all about, but I decided to give it a go anyway.  I'm glad I did.

Setting: *****  
I liked it. It was just an ordinary small town, but I felt it as if it were real. I got a good feeling of the atmosphere, which is a huge part of setting. It felt authentic to this time period. I especially liked the aspect of the abandoned waterpark--it was spooky and cool. I also liked the fact that it was called Paradise, which was a nice contradiction.

Characters: *****  
Andi felt very realistic to me.  I felt like she was fully three-dimensional, and we really got to know her throughout the course of this short book.  Her internal struggle was as real as her outer struggle, and I really liked what she decided about her faith at the end.

Daniel seemed like a real six-year-old boy.  He was cute, but even at six he had some interesting depth to him. Much of the other characters did, too. They all were realistic and believable.

Plot: *****  
It wasn't action-packed.  It didn't leave me on the edge of my seat, gasping in horror or shock or something.  It wasn't thrilling.  And yet, I still enjoyed it.  It was full of emotions.  It made me angry, and sad, and happy, sometimes at the same time.  This is one of those plots that can best be described as beautiful, even though that really doesn't mean anything to some people. But those people that have read books like know what I'm trying to say.

Uniqueness: *****
It wasn't copying anyone, and it wasn't trying to be something it's not. I found it unique, but then again, I don't delve into this genre much.

Writing: *****
I liked how Connelly brought the emotion of the plot into the narrative, as it should be.  I could feel Andi's fear, confusion, and concern for her brother seeping off the page.  I liked how it flowed, and nothing jumped out at me that was especially annoying. Nothing that I can think of now.

I really liked the faith aspects of it.  I liked how she questioned and doubted the entire way through, but figured it out at the end.  Agnostics won't be bothered by it, Christians will appreciate it, but if I were an atheist, I'd steer clear of this one.  But I'm not an atheist.

Bla.  Another short review.

Total Score:
This was something a little different for me, but I'm glad I tried it.  I enjoyed this book.  It's a beautiful, heartfelt story about siblings, miracles, and many more things.  It brings to mind a quote from Peace Like a River: "Real miracles make people uncomfortable."  I think that fits very well with this book.  It's full of emotion, and there's no annoying love triangle or perfect characters. The characters are all real, and I, for one, don't doubt the reality of the miracles. Recommended!

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