Author: Wendy Wunder
Publication Date: 12/08/2011
Source: ARC (Thank you so kindly to Razorbill/Penguin for sharing!)
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.
For the past seven years, Cam has been defined by her cancer. Hospitals, treatments, holistic trips her mother hears of to heal her. She met her best friend, Lily, at a summer camp for kids with cancer. Her rebellious and carefree personality, affected by repeatedly hearing that she's getting worse and not better. Growing up in Orlando, living, breathing, and working at Disney World, she's used to a sugar-coated world that's not quite what it seems. And then her mother packs Cam and her sister, Perry, up for a move to Promise, Maine. Promise, a place where miracles happen. But can Cam believe in miracles?
This book will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time. Reading a book about someone so young with cancer is devastating, yet there's hope. Hope that Cam will be able to cross some items off of her Flamingo List, hope that maybe there's something to the idea of getting out of Florida and into an entirely fresh environment. Cam's easygoing sister, Perry, makes friends right off the bat while Cam is content to sit inside, bundled against the cooler Maine summer, and watch old movies. The setting, for Cam, is strange and slightly too perfect in a way that completely differs from Orlando - here the people and places are real, and perhaps that's what eventually sparks her interest. She's trading one definition of 'real' for another, but this time she can interact with the denizens.
I really enjoyed Cam as a character mainly because I can identify with her dry humor and healthy sense of sarcasm. While I think that some of that stems from before her diagnosis, a lot of it seems to be a defense mechanism that's evolved from her cancer. She simply doesn't have the time, she thinks, so where is the point in dressing up her words? My favorite thing about her is the view she had regarding her Flamingo List. Originally seemingly willing to do whatever necessary to cross items off, she finds that perhaps some things aren't as important as they once seemed. And others? Well, they crop up unexpectedly.
Cam meets Asher in Promise, who is a local going back generations. Though Asher is charismatic and well-known, his interactions in Cam's life becomes an interesting side story that meshes well with her own. Though Perry is the outgoing child, Cam fails to realise the impact that she has on people's lives. Impulsive, thoughtful, and honest, her decisions have a far-reaching impact that she only begins to see after the fact. Asher believes that Promise is his future and can see no other option. Cam knows when not to agree so easily. Toss in Cam's mother Alicia, and a cast of characters from both Orlando and Promise and you've got a memorable cast for a memorable summer.
The Probability of Miracles may not be an easy read, but it's one that I can heartily recommend. From flamingos to pet lobsters to mistakes and realisations, this is a book full of heart and courage and hints that decisions may not come so readily, but that there is a possibility of miracles.