Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles
Cameron Harris, a young veteran who was paralyzed in Afghanistan, is visiting the local convenience store with his sister Tanya. Suddenly, he stands up and walks. Is it a miracle? Does it matter if it’s a miracle, and what does his regained health mean for Cameron, Tanya, and the Vietnamese American owners of the convenience store? The Vatican investigates a possible miracle, while Janice, Cameron’s doctor at the VA, struggles to understand what might have happened medically, and a reality TV producer comes calling. Tourists start visiting Biloxi to see the spot in the parking lot where Cameron first walked. We learn about Cameron and Tanya’s family, how Hurricane Katrina affected them, and why Cameron stopped playing football and enlisted in the Army. The siblings are stunned to find themselves being filmed for television, and Cameron doesn’t want to talk about his past or the secrets he’s hiding, especially from his time in Afghanistan. Witty and engaging, though not very fast paced, this contemporary novel is a thought-provoking read.
Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman
Frances Bloom is the neighborhood carpool mom, and fits seven kids in her van every weekday morning. Then she has a couple of hours before picking up two preschoolers, usually spent running errands or doing laundry. Michael and Frances have three kids, ages 4 to 14, along with two dogs and a cat, and don’t get much alone time. Retrieving craft supplies for first-grader Kate, she learns that her neighbor Anne is having an affair. Anne ends the affair, but her husband finds out and causes a scene that has the whole neighborhood on edge. Different points of view introduce the neighbors, and even Ava, at 14 the oldest kid on the block, gets her turn, as does her brother Milo. Witty dialogue and some humor, especially at soccer games, make for a quick read, but I found this book not quite as enjoyable as her first book, The Garden of Small Beginnings.
The Writing Class by Jincy Willett
Students in Amy Gallup’s new writing class in southern California start getting odd comments or a rude drawing in their writing critiques, and Amy gets a threatening phone call. Amy, who hasn’t written for decades, is cranky and cynical, but seems to be an excellent writing teacher. When the pranks escalate and there’s a suspicious death, the class wants to keep meeting to uncover the culprit. Can Amy analyze their writing samples to help solve the mystery? Will Alphonse, her basset hound, be threatened? While not as funny and witty as the follow up book, Amy Falls Down, this is still an enjoyable novel, with some potentially useful advice for novice writers.