cover image The Question of Miracles

The Question of Miracles

Elana K. Arnold. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-544-33464-9

Arnold (Sacred) sensitively examines grief and the big questions that arise when someone dies unexpectedly. Sixth-grader Iris Abernathy’s family moves from California to Corvallis, Ore., shortly after the death of Iris’s best friend Sarah. Iris wants nothing to do with her rainy new home (“She hated it, even if it was beautiful”), her father’s ambitious plans to grow a lush garden and raise chickens, or anyone at school—until she meets kind outsider Boris. After Iris learns that Boris barely survived infancy (his devoutly Catholic family believes his inexplicable medical recovery was a genuine miracle and is attempting to have it certified as such by the Vatican), she is inspired to attempt to contact Sarah’s ghost, who Iris thinks is currently residing in the cabinet under the stairs in the old farmhouse they have moved into. Arnold’s heroine confronts her emotions honestly (even when she’s putting on a brave face to mask what she really thinks or feels), and her slow, difficult journey to understand the absence left in Sarah’s wake unfolds with heartbreaking believability. Ages 9–12. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Feb.)