Book Review: The Probability of Miracles

The Probability of Miracles
 Narrated By: Emma Galvin
Published By: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: December 2011
Audio Length: 8 hours, 7 minutes
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Death

On the Writing & Story:

I wasn't sure that this book was one I would enjoy. Reading about teens with cancer isn't a walk in the park so I was hesitant. Cancer is one of those diseases that affects us all. I would be hard pressed to find someone whose life has not been touched by cancer. I have lost several family members to the disease. However, the book had such high ratings on Goodreads that I thought I would push my hesitation to the side and give the book a chance. While the book is heartbreaking, it is also inspiring and was much more than I expected.

Campbell Cooper is a girl who is on the cusp of adulthood and should be looking forward to college life. But as the rest of her high school classmates plan for heading out on their own, which sorority or fraternity to pledge, and dreaming of college parties, Cam is just trying to enjoy each day. Her acceptance letter to Harvard remains a secret and she makes no future plans. Cam knows that she might not make it to the end of the summer. What would you do if you knew you were dying from a disease that had no cure? How would you choose to live your last moments knowing that the end was looming in the near future? Cam chooses to approach life with a cynical view and her dry wit can be a bit abrasive at times. However, I couldn't fault her for her approach to life. I honestly have no idea how I would respond to knowing that my death was imminent and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I would hope that I might choose to live my last days in happiness with those I love, but I tend to be a bit of thundercloud most days. Cam does take some time to get to know. I felt as if she was trying to push the reader away - just like she did with her family. She didn't want anyone to become too attached and then mourn when she was gone. However, she didn't succeed with me. It took some time, but I really enjoyed Cam's sarcasm and personality in the end.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how uplifting it was in spite of the content. Don't get me wrong - I bawled like a baby at the end - but overall the message wasn't one of gloom and doom. Cam shows us that there is always hope and that believing in miracles isn't a bad thing. I also loved that as the plot progressed, Cam truly got to see how much her life had affected others. There were so many people who were forever changed because they had known her. It really makes you wonder about all the connections you make with people. How will people remember you when you are no longer there? Will you have changed their lives for the better?

Wendy Wunder's debut novel is impressive. The writing is smooth and the characters are complex. The Probability of Miracles is one of those books that will have you considering how you choose to spend your life. Life is fleeting for us all and it trickles away second by second. I couldn't help but think that this book does for cancer what Going Bovine did for Mad Cow Disease. Both books look at tragic diseases and their effects on young people while still providing some humor, magic, and hope.

On the Audio:

The narrator, Emma Galvin, certainly fit how I imagined Cam would sound. She didn't let a lot of emotion leak into her voice and at times it was slightly monotonous. However, because Cam is full of that dry humor and sarcasm, the narration style seemed to fit. I would have preferred that the other characters - such as Asher - be set off a bit differently. I felt like the narration stayed the same regardless of which character was speaking. That made it difficult to follow at times. The audiobook is okay, but I feel like the story would be more poignant if read in the traditional way.

One Last Gripe: I wish that Cam had seen everything Perry had to offer sooner. I felt sorry for Perry throughout most of the novel.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The time in Promise, Maine - I loved watching Cam get her second chance

First Sentence: When Campbell's father died, he left her $1,262.56 - as much as he'd been able to sock away during his twenty-year gig as a fire dancer for the "Spirit of Aloha" show at Disney's Polynesian Hotel.

Favorite Character: Asher

Least Favorite Character: Alec

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.
A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.