I will admit that I only know Emma Donoghue from Room. Even though she has written a ton of books, I picked up Room on a whim, read it in December after it was published, and was blown away by it. When I saw The Wonder pop up to request for review*, I knew I wanted to read it.
The Wonder is the story of Lib Wright, who is a nurse under Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign. She is called to the side of eleven year old Anna who has stopped eating since her birthday, except for a tablespoon of water a day.
Anna quotes scripture, prays regularly, and has become a miracle child in her hometown. People come from as far as the US to come see her. She states that she lives on the manna from heaven.
Lib is there to disprove Anna. She is skeptical, thinks food is being slipped to her secretly, and continues to test Anna in all sorts of ways. What happens though when Lib starts to believe that Anna is the real thing?
I have to write up front that I wasn't blown away by this book, but I also have to write that it may be because I was too hyped up for it. I was perhaps too eager for this book and wanted to devour it, while it is a book that takes its time, and moves slowly. It moves slowly because it needs to build trust and build a relationship between this girl and this nurse.
Even though I wasn't blown away by the book, I still thought it was an incredible read. Once I got used to the pace, I saw a book that explores the tension between science and faith, reason and theology, and the rational and myth with the question- can the two co-exist on the same realm? There seemed to be throw away items about fairies and other mythical creatures, but those topics were there to balance the fantasy and this seemingly real deal fantasy. It was a brilliant move on Donoghue's part.
At this point Donoghue knows her writing voice and is quite comfortable with it. Even though I didn't have much experience with her, one can tell she is an accomplished author. Her writing style was on point and she controlled the pacing of the book, where to slow it down and when to build it up. It was incredibly well written.
My worry is exactly what happened to me. She is now knows for a world renowned book, as well as movie script. She is now a famous author and people will pick up her book because they loved Room. I worry that they will be turned off because it isn't Room 2. Only time will tell on this one.
I gave The Wonder a solid 4 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
*I wish to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for allowing me to read this book early. I received it for free in exchange for an honest review.