Author: Monique Polak
Publisher: Orca Books
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Ani lives in the tiny Quebec town of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, where her family runs Saintly Souvenirs, a tourist shop catering to the many pilgrims who come to the town seeking a miracle. The bane of Ani's existence is her hyperactive, over-sexed younger sister, Colette. Ani and her mother, Therese, are devout Catholics; Colette and her father are not. When Therese is paralyzed after a freak accident, Ani's faith is tested, but when she is confronted with something shocking in her mother's past, she has to rethink her whole existence.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
My Summary: Ani (named after Saint Anne) has always been the 'good' daughter - she's religious, responsible, and takes care of her out-of-control younger sister Colette. Ani's always been content with her life in the tiny town of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre - she's happy running the family's souvenir shop with her parents and comfortable knowing that she can always rely on her faith.
That is, until the accident.
Soon Ani's life is turned upside-down, and she has no idea what to do anymore - she's losing her grip on things, facing obstacles she never dreamed she'd be up against. Even worse, the people she thought she knew are starting to seem like complete strangers - her mother, her younger sister, and even her father are not who they appear to be.
My Thoughts: This was a wonderful coming-of-age story, and the element of religion really tied it together nicely! As someone who grew up in a moderately religious household like Ani's, I was able to easily identify with Ani's feelings about what was going on around her. The way she felt trapped in her tiny town was also easy to relate to, and I loved the Canadian element of the story! Members of my family have actually made the pilgrimage to Sainte-Anne, and it was great getting a glimpse at the feelings of the locals. I also loved the debate over miracles between Ani and her dad - it was interesting to see how vastly different people's views could vary on the topic (I, for one, am a believer!).
Mrs. Polak's writing is smooth and easy to follow, and there are enough plot twists to keep you flipping pages to find out what happens next. Her imagery and descriptions of the beautiful buildings in Sainte-Anne made it easy to picture the town and follow Ani throughout her journey.
And what a beautiful book! The cover is simple but stunning, and sure to catch your eye.
Final Thoughts: Miracleville was a lovely read, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to do so! I definitely recommend it to teens who are coming of age and unsure how religion can work within society and culture nowadays. It would make a great Easter gift!