The Wonder | Emma Donoghue (Book Review)

Hardcover, US Edition, 304 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316393878 (ISBN13: 9780316393874)


In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

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A friend of mine recommended The Wonder to me and she thought I would love it so I was extremely keen to read it. I ended up loving this book, the story, the setting, the characters (well most of them), all of it. There’s some pretty heavy stuff that is talked about in the book and there are times that it’s quite disturbing for lack of a better word. It all serves the story though. All of the frustration and anger you feel throughout the book is also met with love and beauty.

The story sucks in you right from the get go because if you’re like me you just have to know what is actually happening with little Anna. Quite like the nurse that is sent to get to the bottom of this we all know that there’s no way any body could go without eating for months on end. So it sets up the questions right away about what is happening. Is it truly something other worldly and supernatural? Was it a miracle that happened allowing her to not eat? Or was it just like everyone probably thought that the whole town is being played by a little girl and her family?

I had to know as soon as possible what was actually going on and I continuously waffled on it being an actual miracle or just some slight of hand that the family set up to fool everyone.

With the book being set in Ireland in 1859 there’s obviously a very heavy religious aspect to the novel. The family is very religious where as Lib is the opposite. I found myself relating to Lib in so many ways when it came to her questions on God and religion. While Anna spends her days praying Lib spends her days questioning. She works in the terms of science and Anna works off the bible. It makes their relationship even more interesting in that Lib can’t possibly understand where Anna is coming from.

As the story unfolds you’ll find yourself getting more and more frustrated and you just want to scream at some of these people. I honestly must have felt a hundred different emotions while reading this book. I was sad, happy, frustrated, angry, hopeful, all of it.

This novel is truly beautiful in so many ways and the setting is tops among them. The backdrop of Ireland adds a completely haunting and atmospheric feel to the whole novel and you can almost feel like you’ve been transported through time. I’ve never even been to Ireland yet I could picture it clearly in my head as Lib and Anna would go on walks.

I can see how this book wouldn’t sit well with every person who picks it up but I think it’s worth a read. It’s truly like nothing I’ve really ever read before but it’s not completely out there either. It’s a fictional novel but it’s actually based on real accounts of “fasting girls”. It’s not a light-hearted read but it does have a whole lot of heart.

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