Received a copy of The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott through the First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review
" An entire lifetime came and went and, in the scope of understanding its entirety, Ava could finally see the long, winding road that led her mother to the rafters of the barn that day. And she could see that, upon that road, there was no guilt. She had loved her mother, and her mother had loved her. And, sometimes in life, love and loving can still lead to an ending that we would otherwise choose. A fate with no blame to be taken. She understood that, in this world, there are unexplained wonders and faultless horrors both."
The city of Stone Temple, North Carolina is celebrating their annual farewell to summer with their community get together and extravagant air show. The planes are in the skies and the large mesmerized crowd is gathered intently to watch. As quick as they marvel at the beauty of the mechanical birds flying high in the clear blue sky, they are entrenched in shear dread at the sight of one of their own descending to the green earth. Matt Cooper is pronounced dead at the scene in what was coined the day of miracles as luckily only one perished in the unfortunate accident. However; after a few days people will forget the crash, but what the world will remember before all other things are the visions of a thirteen-year-old Stone Temple native Ava Campbell healing her best friend Wash of his potentially deadly wounds. The revelation and news of the little girl's powers spreads like wildfire throughout the small, sleepy city, leaving Stone Temple forever changed from the humble beginnings from which they lived prior to the air show. People from all across the state, ministers from all across the country, and the international media have been relentless in their pursuit trying to get a word, a glimpse of the "Miracle Child".
" 'I don't know what to do with all this,' Ava said as the crowds disappeared behind them.
'Do the best you can,' Macon said, 'just don't get lost in it.' "
Ava Campbell is a young woman who has been forced to grow up and mature much earlier than most children her age are expected to. Her mother Heather committed suicide when Ava was a young child, expediting her transition to an early adulthood while still maintaining some sort of a hold on her childhood with the help of her playful best friend Wash. Heather cherished her daughter and with the spirit of a child ingrained in her own self as an adult she would often take Ava to places that would awaken their senses, their spirit, their minds and appreciation of the beauty that the world can bring. As a child her mom made her believe that she could do anything, now memories of her mother are dissipating and visions are coming at terrible times. Ava's father Macon is the town sheriff who has dealt with depression from the unsuspecting end of his wife's life but in spite of all of that he has an unrelenting optimism. Macon has been a rock for Ava and has maintained a physical presence and has been there as an emotional outlet for his daughter in the day's, week's and year's after to help lessen the blow.
For his sake, Macon was lucky to find Carmen when he did, for her sake the timing couldn't have been more appropriate as well. Carmen lost her first child Jeremy just mere moments after giving birth. Carmen took it extremely hard and in response to her despondency her husband left her behind to deal with the trauma the only way he knew how. Carmen spent the following years drifting between cities and jobs until she found Stone Temple, and as a result she found Macon and Ava. Early in their relationship Ava resents Carmen for trying to replace her mother, but what Ava fails to understand is that Carmen needs them a lot more than she thinks.
" 'The world doesn't have to be cruel,' Heather said as she took her daughter's hand. 'Sometimes it can be whatever we want it to be.' "
Wash has taken up residence with his grandmother Brenda after a car accident left his mother dead and his father a shell of his former self. His father Tom left when Wash was young and has only recently re-entered his life after six years away and inconspicuously as the news has traveled about The Miracle Child and Wash's close relationship with her. Tom intimates to Wash that he couldn't cope with his wife's death, but today, after so many years apart they're know strangers to each other. Despite Ava and Wash's obvious physical differences they are truly kindred spirits that have shared many traumatic experiences together with plenty more in store that will truly test their friendship.
The premise of the book leaves the cynic with plenty of ammunition and a lot to be desired. I mean come on, a tragic accident at a small town air show leaves people injured and some dead. A young girl is caught on camera healing her best friend of his injuries and the city is sent into hysteria to get a glimpse of "The Miracle Child." Like my initial thoughts, I am sure plenty of people can predict the outcome, but guess what, this in fact does provide some surprises. The author does a great job in bringing varying social motivations to the forefront during times of absolute being. It makes you wonder who you really can trust when the unbelievable happens and the potential for a life-altering miracle is there. The social commentary during a time like this exposed the seedy side of people even when the presence of a higher god is around them, this dynamic bore a semblance to the author's previous novel The Returned. In my honest opinion the author fulfills all the lost promise of The Returned with The Wonder of All Things. This book maintains a certain feel that made the experience extremely enjoyable and one that I would recommend to others.
" 'Believing that the world can't hurt you. That's the most amazing thing a person can ever feel, can ever believe. And it only ever happens once in a lifetime, and it never lasts. The world always tells you the truth of things. People around you start dying, you get hurt, eventually you start to understand that you're not invincible, that you're not special.' She shook her head. 'There's a word for that feeling, Macon,' she said. 'Its called childhood, and once it's gone, it's gone. And that sense that the world is this large, magical thing gets taken away with it. In that moment, you become an adult, and you lose your ability to see the wonder of all things. All you see from that point forward is how broken everything will one day be.' "