Sunday, April 02, 2023


Chow, Karen. Miracle
March 28th 2023 by Christy Ottaviano Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Amie is a miracle to her parents because her father was fighting cancer even before she was born, and they didn't think they would be able to have a child. He has continued to struggle with the disease, but is always optimistic that he will beat it. Amie knows that her time with her father is precious, and takes comfort in family rituals and shared interest, like her music. Amie is a talented violinist, who plays with the school group and also takes lesson from the director, Ms. Soto. The family doesn't hide the father's illness; in fact, he is visiting Amie's class to deliver a message about hope when he collapses. While Amie doesn't mind if her close friends Rio and Bella know all the details, it's hard when the whole school knows. Her father goes into the hospital, and it's clear that he's not doing well. He gives Amie a violin of her own for her birthday, which is bittersweet. A tumor is pressing on his brain, and it alters his behavior. At one point, he tells Amie he just wants to be alone, and she takes it personally, to the extent that she refuses to go to the hospital with her mother to visit. Of course, after this, her father goes into a coma and passes away. Amie gets through the funeral, but the fact that her father was so closely connected to her music makes it hard to play. Her mother wants to move on; establish routines, return to the 'normal', and clean out all of the father's possessions. This just makes Amie angry, and her mother does suggest counseling. It helps, but the difference between her way of grieving and her mother's exasperates Amie's own fragil mental state. Will she be able to come to terms with the loss of her beloved father in a way that will allow her, not to move on, but to continue on with her life while preserving her father's memory?
Strengths: There are plenty of books dealing with parents who are dying or who have died, and this was one of the more realistic ones. Chow herself lost her father at a young age, and this experience does make a huge different in the writing. The best part of this was the inclusion of lost of musical details, which often do not get addressed in middle grade literature, although there are plenty of tweens who are very invested in playing instruments or singing. I love that Rio was composing music. Amie and her mother have a good support network, and there are lots of details about baking as well. It was good to see that her mother didn't collapse into a puddle of grief, and that Amie was shown benefitting from counseling. 
Weaknesses: Do people really burn that many cookies? I think people burn a lot more things in books than in real life. While Amie's grief took a very dramatic turn, it was realistic, but in a Blume's Deenie kind of way, where Deenie cuts off her hair. I don't want to spoil it, but given Amie's love of music, it was a tiny bit hard to believe. Certainly made for riveting reading. 
What I really think: While there are far more deceased literary parents than actual parents, there have been a number of students I have known whose parents have fought cancer. This is a good addition to novels about this, like Swenden's Solving for M, Culley's The Natural Genius of AntsClark's Glitter Gets Everywhere, Lopez's Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, and Pyros Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas.

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