The Oxford English Dictionary defines a miracle as “…an extraordinary event attributed to some supernatural agency; any remarkable occurrence or specimen”. Whether one does believe in miracles and the power of religion and faith in our lives are resounding themes of The Miracle Girl (April 2015) by Andrew Roe.
Closely following a seemingly true ABC 20/20 story in the mid-1990s about a young girl in Massachusetts, this novel explores the fictional world of seven-year-old Annabelle Vincent who, on the cusp of Y2K, is stricken after a car accident with a coma-like state called akinetic mutism; she cannot speak, she cannot move; doctors cannot ascertain if she is conscious; although her eyes are wide open, barely blinking. Her prognosis is dim and bleak at best.
Yet, seemingly miraculous events occur around and through her. The fame of her supposed supernatural abilities exponentially spreads from the small, impoverished Los Angeles suburb of La Porta throughout the nation and the world. Thousands flock to her bedside seeking solutions to their problems and cures for their various ailments – for themselves, for friends, families, and loved ones. Despite their claims, one is left to wonder if it is, indeed, true. Can Annabelle really effect miracles?
A nonfiction writer at heart, Roe capitalizes on his matter-of-fact yet lyrical writing style to explore in depth the lives that Annabelle touches: her parents, Karen and John; her physical therapist; the visitors; the neighbors; and Father Jim Hinshaw who is assigned by the archdiocese to investigate and determine if the strange occurrences purported to be happening are, in fact, miracles. Speculative at best, this author has bravely – and lovingly – tackled the eternal questions of belief and faith, plunging his reader into a problematic dilemma, wondering about reality and second guessing the novel’s nebulous ending.
Not easily categorized into one specific literary genre, Roe’s first full-length fictional offering poses more questions than can be answered. A treatise on modern religion and theology as well as a stunning exegesis of the world beyond our empirical nature, it is above all a wonderful study and story of the multi-faceted, often miraculous sides of human nature.
Reviewed by June J. McInerney
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