Mar 19, 2012

Review: The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

Book cover of The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Title: The Probability of Miracles [Amazon|GoodReads]
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...

Get a second opinion:
Good Books and Good Wine (Audio)
Tripping Over Books


  1. That's exactly what I thought! That it was going to be a Hallmark Special, and I'm so glad to hear it was far from it.

    "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." This was really the selling point for me. And, no, not because The Boy and I share a name ;) But I loved that you mentioned her multi-culturalness and the Disney world bit? Jealously is not just your friend today, Heidi. *LOL*


    1. Haha, I'm glad you had the same initial impression as me. It kind of starts out that way, but moves very far from that direction. Glad I could sell you, and not just because of Asher. :P The multiculturalism was really cool, at one point she dances a story, which I didn't realize was what hula does. I loved learning that about Polynesian culture!

  2. Oh my goodness, I loved The Probability of Miracles. It was just so quirky and emotional. I can see how people would be a little put off by Cam's cynicism, but I didn't mind it, especially as the story progressed, like you mentioned.
    And I LOVED SO MUCH Cam's heritage and that we were able to see it in such a creative way, through her dancing. I loved that there were different poses and moves for different feelings or things. That was awesome.
    Fantastic review, Heidi!

    1. Thanks, Amy! I completely agree with the hula dancing, it was one of the most interesting and unique things that I took away from this book. I loved that Cam was so rich in culture, and had had such a unique childhood. And she totally grew on me as the book went on!

  3. Awesomesauce review I've been meaning to get a copy of this one it sounds really great and original!!

    1. Thanks, Giselle! You should give it a shot. Yes, it was a cancer book, and I totally cried, but it was so worth it. It ended hopeful despite the circumstances, and that's kind of hard to do.

  4. Hula dancers,you say? That's not me, but this book is still on my TBR. I've been looking forward to it for quite some time and I think I'm prepared for a good cry from it. Hopefully I can still relate to Cam. Though I'm definitely no optimist majorly cynical main characters rub me the wrong way sometimes. I'm glad to hear you liked it, though. Great review :]

    1. Thanks! I hope that you enjoy it when you read it. You SHOULD be prepared for a good cry, but honestly it made me just as happy as it made me sad. My inability to bond with Cam is probably why I didn't love this book quite so much as many others have, but I still really liked it.

  5. "It’s about having something be about something other than a sickness when that sickness is all you have, and that is everything."

    I have this book and I haven't read it yet. I'm gonna wait a little while, still, because of reading The Fault in Our Stars AND A Monster Calls within two days of each other. Lots of the c-word there. But I can't stop looking at the cover. So stinkin pretty. It makes me want to pick it up now, but I NEED to wait awhile. I'm in sad-book overload.

    1. Holy cow, TFiOS and A Monster Calls back to back?! Are you okay? Do you need to talk to someone/a Costco supply of Kleenex? I haven't read either yet, and while I do really want to, it's the whole 'need a break' mentality from the whole thing. I loved the cover of this one as well, and I'm sure you'll appreciate it when you do get there, but by all means take a break to read something happy!


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