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Monday, June 29, 2015

YA Review: Miracle

Look, an actual review! Isn't summer amazing?

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Published: June 5th, 2012 by Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 217
Part of a series? Nope, standalone
Got via: I accidentally stole it from the library. I'll bring it back, I promise! It just didn't get checked out somehow (the system hates me sometimes.)
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.

Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved....

Review: Oh, man. I WoWed this one ages ago, and then saw this one at the library a while ago, and it called my name for a long time. The only other Elizabeth Scott book I've read is Love You Hate You Miss You. I can't say for certain because I haven't read others, but I think I managed to find two of her books that are, like, most similar. Like not in characters or specific plot, but in the premise of the "after the big event" type thing. I don't mind that at all - I like reading about the ramifications of these big events - but I find it amusing that I managed to do that.

Anyways, I really liked this one. It's one of those books that you feel in your chest as you read it. You know, that tightness you feel as you read about a character whose world is falling apart around them and you just ache for them. I've cried more over other things, but this was still so good. I'm really glad I finally grabbed it and chose it tonight.

Plot Talk: Basically, the book opens with Megan waking up in the hospital after the small plane she was in crashed. She doesn't remember the crash, and she's not handling the time afterwards well, but neither are her friends and family. The rest of the book follows her journey as she starts to remember the crash and kind of falls apart, and how she'll come back together.

Characters: Megan is one of those characters that I really enjoy, even if not everyone will. We don't know much about her before the crash, but afterwards she's a little broken. She's not very nice, and she does all the wrong things. She's not always likable, but I enjoy that. Give me all the unlikeable girls, all the girls who are prickly and a little mean, the girls who go quiet or numb or cold when they're sad. That's one of my favourite kinds of characters, and she's a really good one. I also appreciate her existence as a character dealing with a mental illness, specifically PTSD, and how the book deals with that. The representation there is very important.

There is also a bit of romance, and that would be the character Joe. Honestly, I think the summary over-sells the romance. While it's there, it's not as big of a plot as the summary would lead you to believe. Joe is not the one to "save" Megan, or the big catalyst to anything, really. He's just a supportive guy. He's there for her, and doesn't try to force her to be anything she's not. I did really like the romance, and I liked Joe. I'm kind of a sucker for that "bad boy with a heart of gold" thing, but, really, he's pretty tame for a "bad boy". Joe never does anything that hurts Megan, and there's really no conflict in their romance, which is very refreshing. The book is about her journey, and the romance is just... bonus.

The summary sets Joe up as very important to her healing, but not mentioned and yet much more important is Margaret. Margaret is a woman from Megan's church who served in the Vietnam war with her partner, Rose, who recently died. She's very important in noticing what's going on with Megan, recognizing it from her own youth after returning from Vietnam. She also gives Megan a safe place when she needs it, and is instrumental in her getting well. Their relationship is incredibly important, and the book would not be the same without it.

(Funny thing: The origin of the name Megan is the name Margaret.)

Her parents are... pretty lost themselves. They don't know how to deal with this. Scott makes the rest of the cast manage to feel sympathetic and also suffocating. You can't help but feel bad at how badly they're handling things, but you also understand Megan's urge to run away as soon as anyone starts talking to her because, frankly, most of these people are terrible at it.

One other thing I did think was cool was that many of the characters attend church, and Megan's family is religious. Her parents have differing views, some which are somewhat bigoted, and while that's not a great thing, it is realistic, unfortunately. Megan doesn't struggle a lot with her faith, but praying doesn't fix her, you know? It's just another part of her life, and I liked that representation as well.

PG-13 stuff: The subject matter obviously is because of the nature of trauma like that, but there's not underage drinking or sex or anything, and I don't have a problem with those things, but it's nice to see a different take on the trauma reactions. Megan withdraws more than she acts out. There's some language, and it's used very well. When it's used, it makes an impact.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Eh, I'm okay. I don't really have any complaints.

Cover comments: I think it's really pretty, and it stood out to me at the library and made the "MINE" voice go off in my head.

Conclusion: It is a really beautiful book. Scott's writing is lovely, and I would love to read more by her (especially Living Dead Girl - I'm really interested in that one). I really enjoyed the low-key aspect of the romance, and how a mentor-like relationship with an older woman is what helps Megan most, not the romance. I liked the representation of mental illness, and the nuanced and varied characters. I very much recommend this one. Four out of five roses.

Other notes:

This didn't fit anywhere else, but the note at the back mentions Elizabeth Scott dealt with PTSD following a very bad allergic reaction. Obviously that makes her writing of the process so much more emotionally truthful, but I also like how she portrays relationships with food in the book. There's a girl mentioned who is very thin, but whose mother pressures her to lose weight. She's mentioned to sneak/steal food, which makes me think of Ellyn Satter, and how pressuring children to eat less (i.e., diet) can cause them to sneak or steal food. (Edit: I originally said "more", but the opposite is often true - children pressured to eat more tend to eat less in response.)

Megan also gains weight as she's stopped aggressively playing soccer and also sometimes emotionally eats, but she talks about how she enjoys having gained some weight, that she enjoys how her body has gotten softer (and she's gotten bigger boobs). Her weight is later given, and she's still quite small, and thin, but regardless, I like books where weight gain is regarded as a positive thing. One of those insidious diet culture things of society is that gain is always treated as a bad thing, and loss is always a good thing, and books often reflect that. A book treating a weight gain as a positive thing gets bonus points in my book.

I'm not going to assume anyone's relationship with bodies or food, but in general, those things are more in line with my own personal philosophies about healthy relationships with food and bodies, and I really noticed those two moments as good things.

I think that's it!

Peace and cookies,

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