The Probability of Miracles

Author: Wendy Wunder
Release Date: December 8, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Personal find
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Spoilers: Mild

Rating: ★★★★☆
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In a sea of dystopian, vampire, zombie, and awkward teenage romance novels, The Probability of Miracles is a fresh new novel from Wendy Wunder. While the idea of a teenager with cancer isn’t new, the whole take on it is. We’re used to the “survivor” types who have the will and urge to live, and those who have come to accept it, but Cam is a whole new type of cancer kid. Cam grew up around Disney, and as a result works there and has seen all the magic it holds. Her mom and late father work at the Polynesian resort as dancers, and much to Cam’s mom’s dismay, Cam herself does not dance on stage anymore after cutting her hair short for treatment. After finding out that her cancer is back, Cam has decided to just let things take their course and live as normal a life as possible. Her mom however has very different ideas and has heard of a magical place called Miracle, Maine. So off they go with Perry, Cam’s little sister, for a summer in Maine in the search of miracles.

I know that sounds super idealistic and typical of a cancer kid YA book, but believe me it’s not. This book is so sarcastic and dry there were points at which I thought Wunder had taken lines from my own life. The awkwardness of Cam is not over done in the cutesy way we see so often, but in the way we all feel from time to time. Wunder also has that wonderful ability to make it seem as if you are really there and experiencing everything with Cam, from the ocean to the long drive. It is a brilliant debut novel that should not be overlooked.

With all that said, there were a few misses with it. A couple of the characters felt one dimensional and flat, but that could very well just be because in Cam’s mind, that’s all they were. There were a few unrealistic things with the Disney portion, like how her friend just stuffed his Tigger costume in the car and drove her home, or how he took off his head. Granted most people reading this will be of the age we know Tigger isn’t really Tigger, but how many theme parks do you know that don’t require an employee to check in and out their costume?  I know, I know, creative liberties, but a little more care should have been taken with the whole being an employee of Disney thing. There’s also the best friend situation with a fight and make up that was just a little too convenient as a plot point to push Cam on, but I’ll let you read that part.

Over all, this is a must read book. Truly one of the best ones I’ve read this year and I’m pretty stoked to have it living on my shelf now. Granted, part of that is because it is just so dang pretty to look at. Wunder’s writing, imagery, cadence, and snark are beautiful things that make this novel one that you won’t want to put down, or stop reading. Cam, Perry, Alicia, Lily and the entire crew will not be ones you forget any time soon. This is one of those books that sticks with you for a bit after reading.

Final Thoughts:

This book took me to places that other novels haven’t lately. The culture that Cam grew up in , the Samoan one, not Disney, reminded me of the time I had spent living in Hawaii and the culture and hula classes I had taken while there. Being able to draw up my past experiences and knowledge of the dances, smells, and history added an extra depth that wasn’t expected and caused an emotional bond with these characters. I loved most everything about  it. From Cam’s dry humor to Perry’s naive outlook on life to the stark contrasts between Florida and Maine, this book was moving and endearing. Wunder’s realistic writing makes it feel as if you’ve known this cast your entire life, which only makes it all the harder at the ending of the book. This is the first book that has moved me to tears in a long time, and I don’t regret one single second of crying over it. So do yourself a favor, go pick up this book, and start paying attention to the coincidences in your life that make up the tiny miracles.

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