cover image The Miracle Stealer

The Miracle Stealer

Neil Connelly, Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-13195-7

Big questions of faith, vocation, the power of prayer, and the possibility of miracles weave throughout this provocative and suspenseful tale, in which inexplicable occurrences in nature and interpersonal relationships lead individuals and communities to deep spiritual longings. How could a three-year-old boy survive being buried alive for three days? Why would a loving father abandon his family? Did a long-dead woman's curse cause a lake's fish to die? Nineteen-year-old Anderson narrates her rationalistic battle against her mother and the townspeople of Paradise, Pa., who blend superstitious beliefs with testimonial-based, community-led Christian worship, and perceive Daniel's astonishing rescue as a miraculous sign. When neighbors begin attributing healings and transformations to her brother, now six years old, and demanding his prayers, Anderson reminds Daniel, "you ain't special." Increasingly frightened for Daniel's safety and well-being, she undertakes a plan to dispel belief in Daniel's "special" powers, at great personal risk. Deftly avoiding stereotypes and caricatures, Connelly (Michael's Scales) creates an alternately ominous and wholesome atmosphere in which the mysteries of friendship, hope, sacrifice, love, and prayer reveal a community's spiritual complexity. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)