The Wonder Of All Things
By Jason Mott
Mira September 2014
Read via Netgalley
The residents of Stone Temple, North Carolina, have gathered to hold an air show. As a hometown hero flies high above the crowds, disaster strikes. People work to free their loved ones from the rubble and they soon discover Ava and her best friend Wash. He is bleeding until Ava holds her hands over him and miraculously heals him. News of her ability spreads quickly and soon the media, the faithful, and the publicity-hungry descend on the small town. People clamor for Ava to use her gift, but she becomes weaker with each healing. She must decide what she owes to herself, to the sick people clamoring for her help, and to the people who love her.
There are many similarities between these book and Mott's debut novel The Returned. We see something miraculous, but get no explanation about how these things happen. Both feature small town people, just trying to survive...at least until something unexpected happens. But that doesn't mean that this story feels like a retread of Mott's previous work. Instead, the fascinating details of this story will keep you engaged with each chapter and each character.
The Wonder of All Things makes the reader reconsider what it means to be a family. Ava lives with her father Macon and her pregnant stepmother Carmen. Her mother committed suicide when Ava was a small girl and she finds herself unable to really let Carmen into her life. But in a small town, family is not limited to just blood relations. Ava often feels closer to her best friend Wash then she does to anyone who lives in her home. Wash also has to make some decisions about his family when his absentee father shows up out of the blue.
As scientists and religious leaders search for the source of this miraculous gift, Ava and her family find themselves with fewer and fewer answer about what they should do and how they can care for each other. I love the ordinariness of the characters in Mott's stories. They are people you might walk by at the grocery store or the bank. But in this author's capable hands, I would read a book about each one of them. The Wonder Of All Things makes magic seem possible in our everyday lives, but also reminds us of the all too-human and often terrible consequences of our choices.