Today I’m reviewing the book I finished just at the end of last year – The Wonder.
The Wonder was my first Book of the Month subscription book, and I was excited to check it out. I’m not sure I would have picked it up off the shelf in a bookstore, but having had it directly recommended to me from the BOTM curators was a big help. Once I read the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to dive in.
The book starts us out as English nurse Elizabeth (Lib) Wright arrives in Ireland. She’s been tasked to keep watch over a young girl named Anna O’Donnell, who has been rumored to have taken no food in several months. Lib and a nun will split shifts to make sure that Anna is monitored 24 hours a day for two weeks.
Still recovering from the recent Potato Famine, the devout Catholics in the small Irish town are ready for a miracle. This includes Anna O’Donnell’s family doctor as well as the local priest. Any ties to religion Lib once had were lost after her tour in Crimea, so she maintains a healthy suspicion of the holy child. Lib’s aversion to religion causes a pretty solid level of suspicion from the O’Donnells in her direction, as well.
We follow Lib as she documents Anna’s every move, wards off the press, and navigates life in a small town. And as we follow the story, we trust her judgment when things start to take a dark turn.
This story is basically a mystery, so the reader begins in the same place Lib does — trying to determine whether or not Anna truly is living off “manna from heaven”, as she calls it. And things are revealed to us as they are revealed to Lib, though there are some small hints. As a reader, I’m not sure if there was an opportunity to figure out entirely what was going on before the author tells us, but I don’t find that to be an issue. I sure as hell love my foreshadowing, but there’s something to be said for being surprised.
I enjoyed this book. I was happy with the ending, though it was rather unexpected. In general, it was unlike any book I’d read in a long time, but I’m really happy I read it. The story is very character-driven, and they’re well rounded and interesting. It was an easy read, smooth, and not difficult to comprehend. Though — it’s not so glaringly obvious that you’ve mentally laid out the plot-line before you get all the way through. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery story, and is okay with not figuring out the solution until the author reveals it.
Grab the book and sail through it — would love to hear your thoughts!