What a great Friend Friday this is! Not only do I get the honor of hosting Elana K. Arnold, I get to giveaway TWO copies of her book, The Question of Miracles. All you have to do is leave a comment below or tweet about this post (earn extra brownie points by doing both!).
When I set down to work on The Question of Miracles, I found myself writing about a girl with a mouthful of questions and no voice to carry them. Iris was sad, as I was sad at that age, and she was in a new house, as I often found myself to be throughout my childhood and adolescence.
Iris’s reasons for sadness are particular—the loss of her friend Sarah and an unwelcome move from sunny California to rainy, dreary Corvallis, Oregon—but the questions that she struggles to voice are universal.
They’re big questions. Why do people die? Why do others get to live? What’s the use in loving when the price of love can be such sadness? Are miracles real? And if they are, why do some people get them, while others do not?
The Question of Miracles is a book full of questions, and love, and tennis and Magic the Gathering and apples and eggs and seedlings and rain and a hairless cat named Charles.
But, The Question of Miracles is not a book full of answers. I think that’s okay. In fact, I think that’s what makes me so proud of it. I don’t want to tell kids what to believe; it’s not my job to teach a lesson or enforce a mindset. My job is to drag a sieve through the world as I walk through it and to drag a sieve through my own memories. I look at what I’ve gathered and organize the treasures—Pink Lady apples and the velvety warmth of a hairless cat and the peculiarity of calling a tennis score of zero “Love”—into an evocative picture.
There is no subject too big for a middle grade novel. Kids are out there, all over, worrying and wondering about all the same things that keep grown-ups awake at night. I was one of those kids. And it wasn’t answers that gave me solace. In fact, I often felt that the answers adults offered me were contrived and dubiously reasoned. What did bring me comfort was the acknowledgement from the grown-up world that sometimes life is awful. Sometimes, bad things happen.
I think giving voice to questions empowers people, children and adults alike. I hope The Question of Miracles begins conversations and encourages readers of all ages to reach out into the world and into their own hearts for their own questions, even if we can never really know the answers.
Elana K. Arnold, the author of several Young Adult novels, earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. THE QUESTION OF MIRACLES, her debut for younger readers, has earned three starred reviews.
Wow. This sounds like an amazing book. “Dragging a sieve through the world” is kind of a wonderful talent for a writer to have. Thanks for this post and for a chance to win a copy of The Question of Miracles. I tweeted about the post. https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/591647591038717952
I read this book last week and absolutely loved it. There are so many elements woven together so seamlessly- tennis (I loved the explanation for the “Love” score), the baby chicks, Iris’s dad’s garden, the rain… I was also touched by the relationship between Iris and Boris. So many children like Boris just need a friend and do not have one. I liked how the story showed that Boris had something to offer Iris, as well. This would be a great story to read in school to help children understand that everyone has something to offer even if they are a bit different. I hope you will write more middle grade fiction!
Lois, if you email me your snail mail address, Elana can send you a book!