Author: Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Copyright Date: December 8, 2011
Number of discs: 8
Narrated by: Emma Galvin
Genre: YA Fiction
Book Rating: A+
Audio Performance Rating: A+
Izzybella and Jehara both listened to this book and they LOVED it, so they decided to do a joint review.
Campbell Maria Cooper is dying of cancer. Western medicine has failed her completely and according to her doctor, what Campbell needs is a miracle. Those are hard to come by, especially when one happens to be a whip-smart, always-right, dryly sarcastic sort of girl who suspects that perhaps the immaculate conception was one big teen pregnancy cover-up. With all her other options exhausted, Cam’s mother resorts to the seductive lure of Promise, Maine, where strange and magical things are rumored to happen; where dandelions are a brilliant purple shade and flamingoes come to nest by the elementary school; where the streets change depending on one’s destination; where sunsets last for hours and hours; and where a boy named Asher just might be a real knight in shining armor.
Okay, a book about a teenage girl dying of cancer hardly sounds like a laugh a minute, but Wendy Wunder (and yes, according to the blurb on the book, that is her real name) delivers this story with such humor, wit, and pathos that I was hooked from the get-go. Cam Cooper is an utterly delicious character, an intriguing mix of confidence and insecurity, heart and gruffness. A movie buff, she thrills to the Sound of Music, but completely-and one can’t help thinking, deliberately-misunderstands It’s a Wonderful Life. She just wants to be a normal teenager, but even if she weren’t dying of cancer, it would be impossible, for Cam Cooper is as extraordinary as a girl could possibly be. Her literal journey from the manufactured magic of Orlando, Florida/Disney World to the more mysterious magic of Promise, Maine is as fascinating as her more metaphorical journey and personal transformation. Cam has a “flamingo list” (think of it as a bucket list) and once in Promise, she finds it rather easier than she thought it would be to start checking items off the list. I won’t spoil you further, reader, because I really want you to read this book!!
From the first words of The Probability of Miracles, I instantly fell for Cam. She is smart, sassy, funny, and vulnerable. It is to Wunder’s credit, that she immediately felt like a fully fleshed, three-dimensional person that I wanted to pull from my earbuds and not only give a giant hug, but I wanted to just kick back and hang out with her too.
Perhaps it is because Cam reminded me of me as an adolescent (minus the cancer.) She is emotional, angsty, and a tad bit cynical. I was one hundred percent invested in her struggles. I felt with her all the way, through her difficulties with Lily, completing her Flamingo list, and her burgeoning relationship with Asher. Also, Asher? I adored him. He was also very well-fleshed out, more so than most YA love interests seem to be.
I love the town of Promise, Maine. The secret entrance to the purple dandelions to the mythology of the Promise tugged at my heart and my imagination. Wunder not only created such lively, living, breathing, human characters, she also crafted a character in the town of Promise. I also really appreciated the descriptions of Florida and the Disney culture. I found that to be quite informative and fascinating.
I loved loved loved this book. I loved this book so much that I want a physical copy for my home library. I want to re-read it in paper form so I can get lost in the words of this world Wunder created.
One caveat: Don’t listen to this book at work. You will need tissues. And you will look like a crazy, snotty mess at your desk. Consider yourself forewarned.
The Audio Performance:
I must gush. Emma Galvin is fantastic, believable, and utterly heartbreaking as Cam Cooper. With her performance, the book, already an A+, was virtually impossible to “put down.” (Jehara’s note: 100% in accord!!!) I actually drove around my block about ten times while listening to the conclusion because I could not bear to stop the story just then. It would have been like putting my best friend on hold while she was in the middle of a crisis. But the highest compliment I have for Ms. Galvin (and incidentally for Wendy Wunder) is this: as soon as the story ended, I put the first disc back in and started all over again.
Bottom Line: A splendid debut outing from a new favorite author. I look forward to whatever Wendy Wunder writes next.
Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Penguin Audio. I received no compensation for this review, and the thoughts/opinions expressed are entirely my own. The Probability of Miracles is available in stores now in book and electronic book format, as well as audio!