The Probability of Miracles
Reading Level: YA
Publisher: Razorbill (December 8, 2011)
Source: an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.
BEAUTIFUL. Simply beautiful.
I had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I don't typically like books that tend to be heavy. I like my books light and fluffy. Afterall, they are my escape. The synopsis does a pretty good job of summarizing the book, but it doesn't tell you how beautiful the writing is. (sigh)
I loved Cam and Asher. I loved Nana and Pery. All of the characters were great and did such a fantastic job of complimenting one another. Nana is a riot. I found it hilarious that she got Cam to steal a leaf off a sacred tree that had "healing powers," but she ran off in the middle of the heist because she saw her arch nemesis. So funny. Pery is your typical teeny bopper. She's playful and innocent, but also incomplete.
Cam and Asher were mesmerizing. Cam was sarcastic and real. You could feel her fear and insecurity. I totally understood why she was trying to protect herself (her heart). And I LOVED how she changed throughout the book. It was so heartwarming. Asher is a little different. He's not dying like Cam is, but he is guarded. He has a fear of loss, so it's hard for him to leave Promise. He feels like if he leaves his mystical home, everything will come crashing down on him. All of these characters were flawed and real. More real than I could have imagined. Their imperfections were captivating.
The plot is pretty straight forward in this book. Cam is dying. In a final effort to find a saving miracle, her mother packs the entire family up and goes to the mystical Promise, Maine because she has heard magical things happen there. Cam is skeptical and guarded at first. She's an odd one (she asked to adopt a lobster from a local sea food restaurant) and doesn't want to get attached to anyone or anything because she knows she won't be around much longer. Somehow, though, things start to change. She slowly decides that maybe pretending to believe in miracles will help her family. There are some hilarious antics with Cam's forced miracles. My favorite being when she kidnapped the vet's donkey, James Madison, and doused him in flour and duct taped an aluminum foil horn to his head in order to fake a unicorn sighting for her younger sister. So. Funny. Of course, that event didn't turn out the way she wanted (like most things in her life), but it proved to be monumental. It was almost like it was the catalyst for her change of heart. And what a change it was.
There are no magical healings in the book. Cam does not overcome her sickness. It was very tragic and so real. I cried while reading the final 40+ pages. I didn't cry out of sadness though. The writing was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. But most importantly, the transformation that Cam-- as a person-- had undergone was what was so amazing. I expected to be so overwhelmed with grief at her passing, but I wasn't. Instead, there was an unbelievable sense of completeness and closure. I can't put into words how the end of the book moved me. The emotions that I felt while reading are too much for simple words. But I can honestly say, it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
I know there is a lot of discussion about YA books being "too dark." I would counter that argument with this book. Yes, the material is very sad and heavy, but it's not dark. It's a beautiful story of hope and change. Yes, the main character dies in the end, but it's not a sad ending. It gives hope and closure to a part of life that seems to be avoided because it brings so much grief. This is a must read. Plain and simple. You owe it to yourself to read this book, and experience the beauty of this story.