Monday, 10 February 2014

Emma Powell reviews Miracle by Phillipa Vincent-Connolly

Review for Miracle by Phillipa Vincent-Connolly

Teenage girls.  Boys.  Homework.  Hormones.  Not my usual genre and nothing out of the ordinary you may think, but this book very cleverly takes these ‘ordinary’ ingredients, shakes them up and throws a very extraordinary story at you. The resulting story centres around a seventeen year old girl - Orianna - coping with all of the above and much more. All whilst coping with cerebal palsy.

The writer conveys, rather succinctly, that cerebal palsy doesn’t mean a limited lifestyle.  Orianna is intelligent, popular and independent. She has an iron will but her vulnerability shows through; she has a confident attitude but her self-esteem regularly nose-dives, her confidence wavers and this keeps her, as the main character, jumping off the page at you. In a sense, she is both the antagonist and protagonist of her own story and it is this element which keeps you turning the pages. 

Orianna’s supporting characters are totally believable and deal with Orianna’s condition from different ends of the spectrum. Support comes from treating her like normal to the point of nonchalance, to being over-protective to the point of suffocating. They unwittingly cross boundaries felt acutely by Orianna. There are a few scenes that deal with these emotions wonderfully - scenes I won’t discuss for fear of ruining a good read! Her family is typical of today with an absent father figure but the twist here is Orianna frequently takes on the role of ‘mother’ as her own mother is out dating a lot, much to Orianna’s disgust! So that’s another dimension to this story and to Orianna’s personality, how she copes with being the ‘grown-up’ out of her younger sister and her mother. This aspect of the story actually works really well, blending in with the overall story and just adds that normality feel to the book; you really feel you’re reading someone’s diary who could easily live in your street.  I imagine quite a few readers will know someone similar or be able relate to this book.

The myriad of emotions that thread their way through this story took me straight back to my teenage years - the Saturday shopping with the girls, fancying boys who you prayed every day would fancy you back, being with friends.  Dealing with how you look, mood swings and finding your way in the world.  The author has juxtaposed the struggles and rewards of someone who doesn’t see why she should be different but alternately sees herself as someone who is.  And it works, very well.  It is the talent of this story-telling that makes this book a page turner.

Grammatically, the writing flows well in a modern style although occasionally, more paragraph breaks may have helped when dealing with situations. This does not, however, detract from an enjoyable read and the words thread their way through emotional highs and lows that keep you reading and caring about Orianna. You can almost feel her self-doubt, determination and vulnerability that are at war within herself. 

The climax of the story comes somewhat out of the blue, again, making a good read but it was such a good scene, I feel a tad more of a build-up would have enriched the whole situation a little more. I found it quite dramatic and suprising but this only adds to the depth of the book - it’s good to be taken by surprise when reading a book; the less you see coming, the better the experience! Also, perhaps more of the story in the aftermath of this climax would have enriched it, too, but perhaps I’m just just trying to expand the story and make it last a bit longer.  It is definately a tale that would suffer no harm from being longer and the character of Orianna is not one easily worn out.  It would even be good to see a sequel ...

 A much recommended read that reiterates that old adage - what you see, isn’t necessarily what you get!  This book opens your eyes to the fact that everybody has a tale to tell no matter how ordinary you may think they are. It shows how people see, feel and act on the same things in different ways and just how rewarding, testing and satisfying life can be when you overcome obstacles in your path. 

For more information on Phillipa Vincent-Connolly, check out her webpage. She can also be found at Facebook and Goodreads.

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  1. A very honest and sensitive review Phillipa. I enjoyed reading it...another book for my TBR list, I think...

  2. I would like to thank Phillipa for the signed hard copy and glad to hear there will be a sequel.