Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Now they hugged me like I was made of glass. Not like I might break, but like I was something priceless. They didn't hug me like they use to and that's when I knew I wasn't Meggie anymore. I wasn't even Megan.

I was Miracle.
Megan Hathaway is the lone survivor of a small plane crash in the Round Hills National Forest. She is a miracle. Surviving with only superficial scratches, it soon becomes apparent that Megan's real injuries are hidden. When she awakes in the hospital, at first she doesn't really know what has happened to her and she can't remember the crash. When the doctor asks Megan if she can remember the plane crash she says she can because she can see the worry and fear in her parents eyes. Megan doesn't want her parents to worry about her because they already have so many problems with her younger brother, David, who has many health issues.

When Megan is offered counseling prior to leaving hospital she refuses saying she is fine. But when she returns to school things are not fine. Gradually Megan's trauma begins to manifest itself in various ways. Megan finds she cannot sleep, that she has no feelings whatsoever about anything, and that she doesn't really feel alive. Her friends find her withdrawn, detached and uncaring.

For Megan however, the way people now view her is distressing. Her parents continue to talk about how she is a "miracle" and her friends treat her differently asking her opinion about things they never would have before the accident. When they ask her about the crash, they want to know how she became a miracle.

Gradually Megan's distress escalates, affecting every aspect of her life. She has flashbacks of the accident and the terrible fire afterwards, and is afraid of trees. Her schoolwork suffers and she begins cutting classes. Her senior year of high school is unraveling fast and she is soon at risk of not graduating.

Strangely, her parents seem happy to ignore all of this, and pretend that everything is just fine. Megan, is after all, their miracle. God has touched their lives in a special way. Fortunately, there are two people however, who do help Megan in their own way; the handsome boy next door, Joe Reynolds, and a retired teacher, Margaret.

Joe lives with his father. His sister Beth, died as a result of an asthma attack, and because Joe was not home when Beth was stricken, his father blames him for her death. After Beth's death, Joe's family imploded, his mother left to live with another man and his father lost his job. Even after living ten years next to Joe, Megan realizes that doesn't really know him at all. Joe and Beth connect because they have both had to deal with death and the resulting family issues. Joe is still trying to process what happened to Beth, while Megan is trying to remember what happened and understand how she alone survived such a terrible accident. Both are still dealing with survivor's guilt. Both Joe and Megan are also trying deal with problems in their respective families as a result of the tragedies they experienced.

Margaret is a lesbian whose partner, Rose, has also passed away. Both women served in the Vietnam War and both women had trouble coping afterwards with what they experienced. Margaret helps Megan realize that she needs to talk about what she experienced and that she needs to do this with her parents and a counselor. At first Megan doesn't really listen, but she soon realizes that what Margaret is telling her is truly what she needs to do. Margaret, as a veteran of the Vietnam war, is speaking from experience. When Rose had trouble many years ago coping with her own experiences from the war, Margaret tried to pretend that everything was fine. But things weren't and it took Rose many years before she was able to process what had happened to her in Vietnam. It is Margaret who gives Megan both the strength and the permission to confront her family, especially her mother, with her feelings.

When she does finally confront her parents, Megan comes to understand why her mother has wanted things everything to be just fine. Megan was her miracle from God, from the very beginning. She was her proof that God forgave her for hurting her parents. And this miracle was reaffirmed when Megan survived the plane crash too. But Megan's mother realizes that by putting all this onto Megan, she has prevented her from healing from the tragedy. Together they decide to try to help each other and work through what Megan has experienced.

Miracle is a well written, short novel that evokes strong emotions in the reader. It tackles a difficult subject of post traumatic stress syndrome in a forthright and authentic manner. The two people who understand Megan's situation best are those who have experienced an unexpected loss and intense grief in their own lives.

Miracle provides young readers with a good insight into post traumatic stress disorder, a condition they might not be very familiar with but might be hearing more about given the return of soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq. For teens who like realistic fiction, Miracle is a great choice.

Book Details:
Miracle by Elizabeth Scott
New York: Simon Pulse    2012
217 pp.

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