The death of a family member is never easy, especially for someone like the always happy main character, Wunder. He isn’t sure how to deal with a death of his baby sister. The subject is dealt with in a unique way in this debut, and it comes off beautifully.

THE BACKGROUND (From Macmillan/Farrar Strauss Giroux Booksmiraculous.jpg)

Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis is a miracologist. In a journal he calls The Miraculous, he records stories of the inexplicable and the extraordinary. And he believes every single one. But then his newborn sister dies, at only eight days old. If that can happen, then miracles can’t exist. So Wunder gets rid of The Miraculous. He stops believing.

Then he meets Faye―a cape-wearing, outspoken girl with losses of her own. Together, they find an abandoned house by the cemetery and a mysterious old woman who just might be a witch. The old woman asks for their help. She asks them to go through graveyards and forests, to townhalls and police stations, by bicycle and by train. She asks them to believe. And so they begin a journey that leads to friendship, to adventure, to healing―and to miracles.

The third person narration unfolds in 48 chapters. Wunder’s parents face the tragedy in their own way, leaving little room for the emotional support their son desperately needs. Mom is locked up in her bedroom most of the time and Dad’s work hours have increased. This leaves Wunder to discover the connection to death with the overbearing help of a sort of new friend and an old lady at the cemetery.

The results are compassionate and therapeutic, almost sure to heal those dealing with a death. The setting and cast of characters make sure of that. But of course it’s the story line—part adventure-part mystery—that will leave you thankful you got to spend time with the miracle known as THE MIRACULOUS.

happy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiEFIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUThappy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiE


  1. The emotions and feelings are so true in this story. They are inspirational and raw, always well stated.
  2. Wunder is one of the more complicated main characters ever featured in an MG book and readers are the beneficiaries.
  3. Humor also makes its way into the tale, mostly thanks to the interactions Wunder has with Faye, the girl who wants answers.
  4. The importance of community when dealing with grief shines throughout.
  5. The adventure part of the story when the kids take a train trip to steal a tree came at the perfect time in the plot.


Wunder hadn’t understood before why his mother was so opposed to the funeral, why she had sent her parents and her sister home, why she had refused to speak to visitors, why she had shut herself in her room. But after last night, he understood. Because now he felt the same way.

He didn’t want to listen to anyone read verses or pray or talk about how his sister was in a better place. He didn’t want to see the casket or the grave. He was glad no one else had been invited. He didn’t want to be there at all.


At age six, Jess Redman published a poem in a local anthology. The first line was, “I read and read and read all day.” She knew then, reading her printed words in a real book, that she wanted to be an author when she grew up.

She spent the next couple of decades doing things like surviving middle school, traveling around the world, becoming a therapist, and having two kids. She wrote the whole time.

Then one day, she realized that she was probably an official grown up and it was time to try to get some more of her words printed in real books.

Her debut middle-grade novel, The Miraculous, was published by FSG/Macmillan on July 30, 2019. Her second middle-grade novel, QUINTESSENCE, will be out on May 19, 2020.

She still reads and reads and reads all day. (For more visit Jess’s author website)


The winner of my giveaway of DOG DRIVEN is Beth Mitchell. You can find her great book reviews over at Imaginary Friends. Congratulations BETH!

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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7 Responses to THE MIRACULOUS

  1. Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that Wunder is a most interesting and complex character. This is such a beautiful book. I will be trying to get my hands on Quintessence as well. Thanks for the heads up on that one.

  2. Your review of The Miraculous really makes me want to read it. Wunder and Faye sound like two great characters. My Kiddo lost her dad suddenly when she was around Wunder’s age and the first best friend she made right after was also named Faye (not too common these days). They’ve been best friends ever since. I guess it really true that life imitates art, and art imitates life

  3. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This book sounds wonderful! It sounds like it does a nice job of balancing a deep exploration of grief and a fun, adventure-based plot. Thanks so much for the review!

  4. I saw this book and have been very curious about it! Enjoyed your review as it gave me a better sense of the story. Think I’d like to read this story! Love the cover.

  5. They take a train ride to steal a tree? That sounds so interesting and intriguing. Was it a meaningful tree attached to a specific memory or emotion? Special type of tree?

  6. This sounds heartbreaking and beautiful. I’ll try to check it out. Thanks for featuring it.

  7. I absolutely adore the premise of this book and how could I ever resist a character named Wunder and a cover like this? I’ll be on the lookout for it–thank you!

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