My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Elizabeth Scott’s “Miracle” certainly had an interesting premise, about a young woman who is the only person to survive a plane crash and suffers from PTSD in the aftermath of events. Megan isn’t the most endearing character to watch go through the motions, but her voice is authentic and I did see why she acted in some of the ways she did in terms of lashing out. I did like her eventual coming to terms, though I kind of wished the cast were a little more developed than they were. I think the sparse dialogue worked for the narrative, but I was also craving a little more character vetting, because some of the characters – like Joe – were cool, and Megan’s friends could’ve used a bit more closure than they did.
“Miracle” is one of those books. And by “those books” I mean that this is a tough read in more ways than one. “Living Dead Girl” had a strong impact on me, so it was no surprise that I would pick this up given the premise. The protagonist, a young woman named Megan (or Meggie, as she’s affectionately called) is the only person to survive a plane crash. When she’s found by the side of the road, she’s taken to the hospital and later learns she has no memory of the events. Not to mention she suffers rather notably from PTSD, but no one around her seems to notice. If anything, her parents, her teachers, doctors, the vast majority of the people around her consider her a “miracle” and make no uncertain terms about referring to her as such. Yet Megan suffers from the guilt of being alive and feels more at a loss than anything else.
This could easily go either way with its respective audience. The sparse writing style that was present in “Living Dead Girl” is here again, but I don’t know if it hit me quite as strongly, despite the interesting subject matter. I followed Megan well enough in her experiences, but there are times when she can be extremely unlikable. She’s emotionally numb, so she moves through her experiences at first with a listless eye. She can be quite cruel in spurts, such as the way she treats her brother, who suffers from neglect at the hands of her parents who pour their attention to Megan (and you can’t help but feel sorry for him because he lashes out in his own way too). Megan’s parents are so painstakingly oblivious it made me want to throw the book at them (if I could manage to do so). Yet I think for the thematic this book was going for, it actually kept my attention throughout, and the narrative feels honest. It was a fairly quick read, and as far as a moment of coming to terms is concerned, Megan makes her way there steadily. She’s helped along in the process by Joe, the boy her affections turn toward, and an elderly woman who lost her partner, who went through similar experiences sometime before, among others who want to see her come out of it. Ultimately, Megan has to step up to the plate to make her life begin again.
I thought that the narrative flowed quite well and it was easy to follow. I also thought that the steady buildup to the moments where Megan remembered the crash were sound. I kind of wish there was a little more character intimacy with the story, however. I understood some of the relationships and reactions (particularly from Megan and her immediate family, and even the friends though they took more of a distant tone), but somehow it left me wanting more. Ultimately I did think the ending had a nice tie off and conclusion, though. It rounded out events and while it doesn’t necessarily tie off every relationship resolution established, it provides enough to satiate for its particular aims. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I liked what it had to offer. Certainly I will check more into Scott’s future works, because she’s proven she can write on multiple tough subjects with brief, yet resonant focus.
Overall score: 3.5/5