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The Miracles of Ordinary Men

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A haunting story about rapture and grace Amanda Leduc’s stunning novel is the tale of two unlikely dreamers: Sam, a man who wakes up one day to find himself growing wings, and Lilah, a woman who has lost her brother to the streets of Vancouver. As Sam finds himself falling away from the world as he grows feathers from his back, Lilah seeks sexual penance under the harsh ha ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by ECW Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Abigail Padgett
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
What would you think if one day you sprouted wings? Despite the fact that an unmanageable wingspan of at least 300 feet would be necessary to support human weight and the musculature just isn't there, surely the first thought would be, "Wings? Maybe I can fly!" But author Amanda Leduc's winged characters never so much as jump, feathers flapping, off a picnic table, which may be the point of this patchy and frustrating but nonetheless intriguing novel. Or something else may be the point. It's one ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Sometimes you pick something up without knowing much about it, and this is the case here. I will however tell you right away (in the interests of transparency) that I have a nodding Twitter acquaintance with Ms Leduc, who lives in my city. Local literary circles are really not that big, and you kinda get to know who the players are.

So based on that, and the fact that I like supporting local artists (can't let you NYers have all the fun of discovering the hot new talent), I picked up "The Miracl
Mike Bull
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
I read a review of this book in the local newspaper which intrigued me, so I reserved it at the library. For one thing, I love to read new Canadian authors because they often have a perspective which is different from the bestselling international authors.

I thought The Miracles of Ordinary Men had an interesting plot once the entire story was revealed, however the finish didn't satisfy me emotionally as much as many other books have: what impacted me more was the middle of the book where I wante
May 01, 2013 added it
Shelves: reviewed
This book is tough to rate in terms of stars so I will decline--it's beautifully written and full of heart and warmth. The questions provoked in the reader are worth asking. But I found the relationship between two of the main characters too dark and too brutal to enjoy. I found myself wincing at Lila's language (although it's true to her character and the other characters are always nagging her about it) because I listened to it on audible. Reading it inside my head might have been easier to fi ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Thank you, dear author, for not feeling compelled to write with neatly tucked corners and a smile face for a period. I enjoyed the development of your angelic character, with the humans as a sub-plot. Your disclosure, uh, cultivation of a horrendously abusive relationship lacked redemption. It, the abusive relationship, became the shadow of your God- character who was cruel and crafty, a jealous lover and stalker. I found the authors ability to unravel her characters a more interesting endeavor ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A quiet, contemplative story about a man who grows wings, that hardly anyone can see, and a woman who long ago lost hope in herself. Chapter by chapter their lives are drawn together towards the ineffable. Amanda Leduc writes with confidence while playing with great themes: angels, salvation, god, damnation, the devil. One of the coolest elements of the story is that it basically takes place in our back-yard: Vancouver, with short trips to the island: Tofino, & Victoria. It's nice to read a nove ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Among its many bittersweet delights, Amanda Leduc’s The Miracles of Ordinary Men makes me miss Peter Falk. One of Falk’s most unforgettable roles was playing himself – but that self as a lapsed angel – in the haunting 1987 film Wings of Desire. While they take different approaches, both the film and the book turn the tables on a spiritual concept that we perhaps all take for granted: that angels are benevolent celestial beings that look out for us, perhaps intercede between us and our higher bei ...more
Jane Mulkewich
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book because Amanda Leduc lives in my city (Hamilton) and as someone else wrote in a goodreads review, "local literary circles are really not that big, and you kinda get to know who the players are"... and I hope to see Ms. Leduc this weekend at FOLD (the Festival of Literary Diversity - where she works).

Having said all of that, I am not sure I totally grasp all of the higher concepts at play in this book (about redemption and angels and god and pain), and I was a little uncomfortabl
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Miracles of Ordinary Men begins with a feline resurrection. Sam Connor's cat is crushed by a truck. He puts his hands on his pet, and in a rush of heat, it comes back to life. The cat's name is Chickenhead and it's a miracle. How can you not read on?

The story (sort of) begins when Sam Connor wakes up one morning to find that he is growing wings. Not fairy wings, but angel wings. Like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, Sam is changing. Unlike Gregor, his physical changes are invisible to all but three peo
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the beautiful writing style of this author. She writes with a poetic elegance that captures the audiences attention right from the first page. I enjoyed the characters immensely. Sam was relatable and you could not help but like him. Lilah presented as a disturbed soul but you could not help but feel sorry for her. Both characters spoke to me, reminding me that people are complex and you can never really understand a persons history as you can never walk a mile in their shoes. O ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A little on the fence about this ending... it was a great story about the doubts of faith, the belief in faith, and the transformation of two into angels. A bit horrid regarding the dark side of heaven, a hellish being; THE hellish being?? and his treatment of someone he wanted. It was a compelling story nonetheless.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Touching, heart-breaking, and healing. The story, strong characters, and narrative voice carried me through the novel, and I resented having to put it down to deal with life. Compelling and enriching.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
It is hard for me to judge this book. Some ideas were interesting, but I have found them terribly long-winded. After couple of first chapters it was just the same things over and over again- wings, Lilah hating her mother (for no apparent reason), Israel beating Lilah (?!!), priest's jokes, sweet cat, some more hating, some more beating, wings, god. The end. There, it is literally all that is going on all the time. What a bizarre book!
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books, noir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
I pretty much hated this book, but most of all I hated myself for spending an entire day reading it. I picked it up at the library because the subject intrigued me and as I began reading, I was drawn in with the character of Sam and his transforming predicament, so kept reading, curious to find out how his situation would be developed and resolved.

Then Lilah is introduced, with her family baggage, and though the reader never really discovers why she hates her mother so much,this hatred appears
Harry Maier
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
What if you are a sort of spiritual but not religious Vancourite who wakes up one day and discovers you are sprouting wings? What if despite your doubts about religion, you find yourself selected to be God's messenger, to battle against an evil power that threatens your family? What if you learn that you, irreligious as you are, are becoming an angel? Amanda Leduc invites us into a theologically charged world of magical realism where we are asked to imagine a world in which not only do things no ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm not a huge fan of human turning/ changing or become Heavenly figures, however it tied together in the end. My thoughts on a Priest who really didn't serve as a TRUE spiritual teacher is quite strange. Nonetheless, that's the harsh reality for some.

This genera of reading is not my norm but I wanted to expand my reading horizons and boy did this expand. There are so true sads and happy of the reality of someone's life. We can ad will never know how, if, or when God chooses to reveal himself t
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in2014
I would have rated this higher but I found the Lilah/Emmanual storyline too difficult to read and understand. I found the questions about God, evil, angels, religion intriguing and was even okay with the ambiguous ending. Catholics can be cremated so that was one detail the author did not get right. What she did get was the difficulty of talking about the mysteries of faith, belief, why bad things happen and how it is impossible to not sound banal and downright ridiculous. I liked Fr. Jim for hi ...more
J.H.  Gordon
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this dual narrative, Sam wakes to find that he is sprouting wings, and Delilah searches the streets of Vancouver for her homeless younger brother. Both of these characters struggle with a crisis of faith, feelings of guilt and loss, a desire for redemption, and personal transformation. Amanda Leduc has written a beautiful novel that tackles the big philosophical questions of life and death. It made me question my own beliefs and left me feeling euphoric. I was haunted by this book and had to ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A curious novel about a man who wakes up with wings. A few priests, a high school student and a street kid are the only ones who see them, oh and a cat, which makes their purpose a bit of mystery. Then again, isn't God a mystery? There are two storylines that intersect, that of Sam with the wings and Timothy the street kid whose sister is dating an abusive, power hungry man. Bit of a dark force who's the counterbalance to the mediocre, weak angel that is Sam.
Steven Buechler
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amanda Leduc has captured thoughts and emotions from our society in her novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men that perhaps haven’t been fully expressed by us all yet. Her characters fumble and struggle with life unsure on how to move forward with it. This is one of those reads that needs to be savoured and pondered over. Not one that is read quickly and forgotten about.
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Miracles of Ordinary Men is a compelling read that works on so many levels, both literal and metaphorical. It makes one think about the battle between good and evil in our own lives, as well as makes one question the people that are societal castaways. This is a dark book, but not one that leaves one feeling hopeless or helpless.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much and couldn't put it down when approaching the end. The symbolism and all the existential/spiritual questions, raised in the framework of some interesting and (to me) relatable characters, wholly sucked me in. I find Ms. Leduc's writing beautiful and will probably reread this at some point.
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Creative, well written and ambitious. However, the concept of God getting through to someone by having them grow wings is difficult to pull off. In the end, sadly, I was not absorbed, enlightened, nor entertained so I would not be recommending it too any friend.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most interesting books that I've read over the past few years. The characters are well written and the story pulled me along well. it's a book that will be in my head for a while.
Tania Gee
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I would really put this more at 3.5 stars.
Catch my review (and Kirt's) on our podcast
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lauren by: Provided for Review
Shelves: review-books
Well worth the read!
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
It would have been amazing if it had actually ended. Oh, Canadian authors!!! Why do you do this to me?
August Bourré
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5, really.
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Write Reads Podcast: Write Reads #10 The Miracles of Ordinary Men 1 9 Oct 14, 2013 02:43PM  

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Amanda Leduc was born in Canada and has lived in England, British Columbia, Ontario, and Scotland. She has published articles across Canada, the US, and the UK, was shortlisted for the 2006 CBC Literary Awards, and was First Runner Up in PRISM International's 2008 Short Fiction Contest. In 2012, she was shortlisted for the TNQ Edna Staebler CNF Contest and the PRISM International Short Fiction Con ...more

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