Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis is a miracologist. In a journal he calls The Miraculous, he records stories of the inexplicable and the extraordinary. These miracles fill Wunder with the feeling that he is not alone, that the world is magical, that he is part of something brighter than he can imagine.
But then his newborn sister dies, at only eight days old. If that can happen, then miracles don’t exist. So Wunder gets rid of The Miraculous. And he stops believing.
Then Wunder meets Faye—a cape-wearing, outspoken girl with losses of her own. Together, they find an abandoned house by the cemetery and the old woman who lives there—and who might be a witch. The old woman asks for Wunder and Faye’s help. She asks them to go through graveyards and forests, to townhalls and police stations, by bike and by train. She asks them to believe. And together, they go on a journey that leads them to friendship, to healing—and to miracles.
THE MIRACULOUS is Jess Redman’s stunning debut about facing grief, trusting the unknown, and finding the brightness in the darkest moments.
At age six, Jess Redman published a poem entitled “I Read and Read and Read All Day” in a local anthology. She knew then, reading her printed words in a real book, that she wanted to be an author when she grew up.
She spent the next couple of decades doing things like surviving middle school, traveling around the world, becoming a therapist, and having two kids. She wrote the whole time.
Then one day, she realized that she was probably an official grown up and it was time to try to get some more of her words printed in real books.
Her middle-grade debut, THE MIRACULOUS, was published by FSG/Macmillan in 2019. Her second middle-grade, QUINTESSENCE was published in 2020, and her third, THE ADVENTURE IS NOW will be out on May 4, 2021!
Wunder Ellis is a miracologist, dutifully cataloging stories of the miraculous in a journal. However, after his newborn sister dies, Wunder stops the stories— miracles don’t exist. But then he meets Faye and, in turn, the woman who lives in the crumbling house near the cemetery. Though Wunder can’t say for sure if she’s a witch, he follows her instructions for a journey that makes him reconsider friendship, grief, and even miracles.
There are few books that, within the first sentences, feel special. They’re different in an almost intangible way. And yet, there’s an energy that radiates through their prose — effortless and compelling — that suggests something wondrous is to come.
That’s what author Jess Redman has managed to accomplish in her debut novel. To be fair, with a main character named Wunder, that’s sort of implied. Yet, this complicated and driven kid just trying to find his way after the death of his infant sister is the glue that binds this work together. Disconnected from his friends and navigating a home life with parents who are also struggling, he pushes aside the miracles that have defined the first part of his life. Yet underneath is his optimistic, curious side that drives him into an adventure full of potential magic.
Perhaps that’s what Redman has done best of all: she’s crafted an expression of the healing process as it relates to grief. Wunder’s moods buck and weave, grappling to find peaceful equilibrium in his sorrow. And through it all he seeks answers, about miracles and about himself. It’s all part of the healing process.
While this might sound heavy — and it certainly is — that’s not to suggest there’s no fun. Faye is the perfect partner, unapologetically boisterous and ready to tackle the world. She sneaks into Wunder’s protective shell and propels him into taking risks. After all, there’s a potentially witch out there who has a quest, and that needs investigating. Just like in life, there’s plenty of joy in sorrow.
Redman has written a story that thrusts the darkness of death into the light while punctuating with a hug. As a result, The Miraculous is a breathtaking debut.
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.
I can't think of another middle grade novel that deals with the loss of an infant sibling, and Jess Redman's THE MIRACULOUS does so with such grace and feeling it left me breathless. Having lost a sibling myself, I know just how quickly and painfully even a close family can unravel around the death of a child. Redman gets all that heartbreak on the page as she describes Wunder Ellis's confusion and loneliness, even as she balances it beautifully with a story about how faith in connection and community can help us heal, and restore our belief in everyday magic.
In spite of its painful subject, this is a warm and often funny book about friendship--Wunder's relationship with Faye, an eccentric Korean-American fan of the paranormal who has also lost her grandfather, helps him recover his passion for collecting miracles. Wunder rebuilds a broken friendship with his oldest friend Davy; he begins to understand that while he is grieving, even his best friends aren't always sure what to do or say to help him.
What I loved most about this book was the way it mirrored the rhythms of healing from grief: the ebbs and flows, the passage of time. THE MIRACULOUS movingly captures the way some things have to be dismantled--like the empty baby crib that stands for too long in a corner of Wunder's bedroom--before life can be rebuilt. As with the magical flowering tree Wunder and his friends set out to find, there is a DoorWay to healing and connection with the departed. We just have to be willing to look for it.
Note: I read an Advance Readers Copy provided by the publisher.
This was a different type of YA read for me. I liked the main character, Wunder's, fascination with the miracles of everyday life and people. It is the first book I have read where the main character actually goes to church and believes in Saints, which for me is a thumbs up.
The story starts off with Wunder's newborn's sister's death. This is the moment he stops believing in all things miracle. He makes a new friend Faye that eventually helps him with his loss as she suffers her own.
Then the story gets wacky with a witch, a tree, and spirals. I guess it was supposed to be magical but I felt more confused than touched.
It was a debut novel by Redman and I think she will come to make a fantastic novel in the future.
Some books come straight from the heart, and this is one of them. We meet Wunder Ellis shortly after the death of his baby sister, when his family is still spinning with grief. What follows is an exploration of family, friendship, love—and the miracles that surround us.
If you like heartfelt books with lyrical language, characters that will make you laugh and cry, and a beautifully detailed setting, then you will love THE MIRACULOUS.
Wunder Ellis, 11 years old, is what he dubs a miracologist, he has been recording miracles in his "The Miraculous" journal for a number of years - he believes in each and every miracle recorded....... Until the day his newborn sister dies, on that day all and any miracles die within Wunder's heart.
His mother, in her own grief, refuses to leave her room, even for the short funeral service for the lost child - only Wunder, his father and the very "weird" officiating priest are at the service. One needs to go by the abandoned mysterious house to get to the cemetery....... At the cemetery, there is a very unusual girl - Faye, wearing a very unusual flowing cape. Faye observes the funeral and immediately attaches herself to Wunder, although he is not really interested in having her around, or the name she immediately decides to address him by "Wundie". Over and over he reminds her his name is Wunder, which she refuses to acknowledge.......
Back to the mysterious abandoned house - something or someone is "calling" to the children to enter. Well, that is certainly UNUSUAL! Evidently Faye and Wundie cross the threshold and met up with the mysterious old woman who resides there...... She sets them upon an adventure that is to break up the stone in Wundie's heart to see all that is good, and to restore the lives of many of the town's broken hearted citizens.
The overall message of this book is contradictory. On the one hand the topic of death, especially that of a younger sibling, is addressed in an accessible way. There is also much hope as the town is brought together by the deliveries of Wunder and Faye. I also loved the way Faye's character was so comfortable in her own skin and steadfast in supporting Wunder (Wundie) in the midst of his family crisis. We are indeed all witnesses of miracles (as defined by Wunder) and slowing down enough to see them and connect with each other is indeed a blessing. My biggest objection to this novel is the fact that a witch is given the credit for drawing the town together when it should be given to God.
Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The cover is beautiful. No hint of violence, lust, or romance. Just a girl and a boy trying to ride their bikes to --or through-- a supposed adventure. The setting is just stunning, lights with an ombre shadowing and a house that just begs the question of "who lives there?" and what is its importance?
The blurb was exquisite. A boy who believes in miracles and writes about them in his journal. The line on the cover could have been omitted (or at least changed) in my opinion. "There are miracles all around us" would have been better without the "If anyone can find them, it's you."
The inside was not as good as the outside. I understand that this was meant for a younger person, but the writing was most, if not all, telling and little to no showing. The sadness was told, the tears were told, the characters and their fears and anger and whatever emotion they 'had' was told.
I wanted to love this; I wanted to feel for them because I feel like a child sometimes. I feel lost, I have questions, I want answers, and sometimes I wonder if miracles aren't true and just happen without any magic, rhyme or reason that doesn't come from just the probability just landing on that outcome.
The thing is while the story was cute and I absolutely loved the idea and wanted so badly to read a story about finding light even in the darkest of times, this did not cut it emotionally or even miracle wise for
---------- I received this in a giveaway and will give an honest review. Thank you so much. The cover is stunning.
I wondered if I could take another book with grieving being an important part of it, but actually this is the book to read if you think you can't read another book on this topic for MG readers. The people of the small town at the center of this book learn to believe in what they cannot see and find light in the darkest of places. This is no small challenge for an author to pull off, but I think Jess Redman has done it.
“But sometimes the brightest miracles are hidden in the darkest moments.”
This is what Faye tells Wunder in Jess Redman’s beautiful debut about loss.
I loved this story for so many reasons. First, the prose is gorgeous. I found myself lost in the beauty of the scenes and the words. The imagery throughout the story is magical– the DoorWay Tree, the cemetery, the forest, the Witch and her house.
Second, I fell in love with Wunder and Faye (et cetera, et cetera). Wunder is sincere and real. I was more than happy to take this journey through grief with him because I knew he would guide us both back to the light.
Finally, and maybe especially, I loved this story because it tackles a subject that few middle grade authors are brave enough to take on full force as Redman does. All children have dealt with loss in some capacity. This story shows the resilience and beauty hidden deep inside the grief – the kind of beauty it takes a child to see.
It is so easy to become cynical and see only the bad. But just as Wunder reminds everyone in Branch Hill that miracles exist everywhere if you’re willing to look for them – he helped me remember that, too. I needed Wunder right now. I needed THE MIRACULOUS.
Thank you Jess Redman for sharing this exquisite story. I know that it will be adored by kids and adults alike.
This book was about the important themes of loss and the loss of faith and the path to gaining it back. Although I enjoyed this book, it didn't click with me to the level that Redman's previous book Quintessence did.
This was such a beautiful and wholesome story about grief, friendship, and love. I liked the characters and even though there wasn't much of a plot, I enjoyed simply reading about their lives. Plus, I have to say it, the cover is gorgeous.
When I rate a book I consider two factors, the quality of the writing and whether kids will likely read it. I have no issue with the author's writing. The thoughts and actions of the characters are well-described. They have clear personalities. There's impressive dialogue and deep thoughts. There's a bit of mystery in the form of a woman who lives in a house near a cemetery and is thought to be a witch. There's fantasy in the form of a rare tree that connects people to their loved ones who have died.
The reason for the low rating is that this book is far too philosophical to be of interest to kids. It tries to tackle the subject of death and grief, miracles and randomness. It tiptoes around the edge of religion without quite going there.
Ever since Wunder discovered the Doorway house at age 5, he has been aware of miracles and recorded them in a book called the Miraculous. Then his sister dies 8 days after being born and he becomes suspect, not believing in miracles anymore. At the funeral, he notices a classmate, Faye, visiting the gravesite of her grandfather. They form an unlikely friendship as they try to make sense of death and what happens to loved ones after they die. Their questions take them back to the Doorway house and the woman who lives there. Who is she? What is her purpose? What are the letters she asks them to deliver to people around town?
The overall tone of the story is solemn. Faye is the only source of relief from the darkness with her "tell-it-like-it-is" personality. Without her this book would have suffered. Unfortunately, the ending tries to make you think the questions have been answered, that the mystery of death and grief is solved, when in truth it hasn't. To think that it could all be boiled down to something as simple as a flower made me feel even more hopeless. Again, way too philosophical for kids, but a good kid book for adults.
@kidlitexchange #partner: The Miraculous by Jess Redman. Releases July 30th, 2019. The Miraculous, set in an America that feels nothing like our America, and completely like a place new and mysterious, brings us a boy named Wunder, his friend Faye, a witch in the woods, and a baby sister who only lived for eight days. The imagery is rich, the dialogue thought-provoking. The characters burst off the page, not because they are so loud or eccentric (with the exception of Faye), but because they are so deeply real, with every quiet word and thought and emotion. Many middle-grade books cover loss, but this is the first piece of fiction I’ve ever read that depicts infant loss. Losing an infant sibling is so different from losing an older one. You may not be losing a friend, but you’re losing your hope of this child. The idea of who this little person would have grown up to be. It can be deeply devastating. And this book handles it so, so well. Jess Redman is a psychologist by day, but The Miraculous, her first book, reads like she’s been doing this all her life. It is masterfully handled and the story is woven with grief and mystery and so much love. I read this book in one day. You can too on July 30th! Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a review copy—all opinions are my own.
Thank you to the author and Farrar Straus Giroux for an ARC of this book (release date is July 30th)
This is such a beautiful story about loss, love, hope, faith, and miracles.
Wunder Ellis is a miracologist, but when his baby sister dies, he stops believing in miracles. He inadventently befriends a girl named Faye, and together they meet an old woman (who may or may not be a witch) who lives at the place in the woods called The DoorWay House. The woman asks them to deliver several letters for her to people who live in their community, and as they undertake this task, both friends start to rethink their beliefs about miracles.
I truly loved the focus on losing a younger sibling, and how it can tear a family apart, but the power of healing to put it back together again. The hope in this book makes the heavier subject matter easier to handle, and a touch of the miraculous keeps the reader wondering where the story is going to go. I love the friendship between Wunder and Faye, and also the way Wunder and Davy are able to find their way back to each other. This book will take you on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but will always set you back gently on the ground.
This is a must-read middle grade book of 2019 for me.
(So interesting to read this right after My Jasper June because they have a number of similarities but are totally different!)
Amongst all of the grief books this year, this one stands out because it manages to be a fun book even though it’s about serious topics (Faye is hilarious!). And because it’s about a kid wrestling with his faith in the face of loss, which I think is a nice angle. It’s a sort of whimsical, inclusive faith, so I think it’s accessible to people of any faith or none.
“Because there can be miracles even in the midst of unfathomable sadness and anger, even in the depths of grief and confusion. And these, these are the hidden ones, the ones we must search for”. This book was everything! A very different middle grade book. Has me all kinds of emotional 😭 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As long as there were caskets so small, there were no miracles.”
11-year-old Wunder Ellis has been a miracolagist for as long as his town can remember. He records wondrous events that have happened all over his town — in fact, over 1,000 of these events have been meticulously written down in his special book over the years. But all that comes to an abrupt stop when his baby sister dies after only living for 8 days. Little does he know that his sister’s burial marks the beginning of an unusual adventure for Wunder. For he must face his demons with both grief and gratitude. This is a story of friendship, of pain, of wonder, of community, and of healing.
Can we all take a moment to admire that gorgeous cover? Yet another book jacket I would be happy to frame and hang in my home. I also wanted to point out that Jess Redmon is a therapist. Few authors have the bravery to address such a weighty topic for a middle grade audience, but she clearly understands the value of examining this difficult journey. There’s also a teacher’s guide available at the publisher’s website for anyone who might be using this one in the classroom.
For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!!
Jess Redman has delivered a heart-warming and emotionally powerful debut novel in THE MIRACULOUS.
The story will capture your heart from the beginning and have you thinking about it long after the last page has been devoured. Beautifully written, the book features a main character with an important message: Miracles exist.
Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis considers himself a miracologist. A keen observer of the world around him, he researches life-changing stories and events and records them in a book called The Miraculous. These stories are evidence that the world is filled with miracles.
Wunder is full of optimism and hope until the death of his baby sister changes everything.
His parents have been rocked to their core with grief. His friends, Davey and Tomas, don’t know what to say and can’t relate. Navigating his loss alone, Wunder decides he was wrong to believe in miracles.
Fortunately, his decision to stop believing is challenged by Faye, a new friend who is grieving her own loss.
Together, they take readers of THE MIRACULOUS on an adventure with lots of twists and turns that, in the end, leave us no other choice but to believe.
This is a story the world needs, now more than ever!
My thanks to the author for an advanced reading copy of this incredible book.
Frankly, it disappointed me. The cover, the description, they were all so great... until I actually read the thing. My problems with it included character development (not enough); climax (or possibly un-climax); and resolution (it didn't feel right).
So, I was disappointed. Very disappointed, a fact that disappoints me even more.
"The world is full of miracles. If anyone can find them, it's you."
I don't have enough words to describe this book. I'm simply speechless It is so much more than a story, it is moving and beautiful and raw, it is heartwarming like the first heartbeat of a newborn and just so so so magical.
It's definitely one of the best books I've read this year and now one of my all time-favorite middle grade books.
In this book, we learn through Wonder's eyes that miracles can be complex and beautiful and can occur even in the smallest of moments. I found it extraordinarily beautiful how the author described the process of feeling lost, the way one feels empty when one has lost a loved one and just "exists" in this dark place. It's so spiritual on a higher level and somehow comforting as well. Because we are connected to the living, to the dead, and the dead are connected to us. This world is complex, beautiful and holds so many wonders for us.
Ahh it's just soo heartwarming and I'm really at a loss for words. The characters are quirky and so real, Wunder is an exceptional child and reminded me a bit of Gansey from the raven cycle series..
What can I say ?? This book touched my soul sooo deeply and I often had that aha moment because I could identify so well with what was being said. The author describes and deals with trauma and loss so well, I feel really grateful to have read this book and can only recommend it to you.
Also you can't really rate such books .. it's just a piece of art
I like how this story of sibling infant death, grief, and comfort in connections is brought to the reader. I cried and smiled as the young narrator navigated this terrible loss with a new friend who is grieving her grandfathers death. The message of being connected to the living and the dead may need to be supported and unpacked with a caring adult. The author touches on different cultural ways to honor, remember, and connect with the dead. Note: there is no medium or talking to the dead.
I liked the writing style, very flowery and descriptive, but one of the characters really bugged me. Faye had no respect for anyone's boundaries and I got really annoyed with her. Also sometimes the dialogue felt super unrealistic. Still an enjoyable read though.
I may never emotionally recover from reading this. Never. This beautiful, hopeful, heartwrenching book. Everybody should read this book. But I would especially recommend it to people who have recently lost a loved one.