The Probability of Miracles is heartbreakingly sad. And for that I commend Wendy Wunder, because very few authors are brave enough to end a story on a sad note. Many authors feel that a fairy tale ending is the key
to a good story, but after reading this book, I think that the opposite may be true.
I know a lot of people who are scared of dying. And that fear stems from the scary invisibility of death. It comes from the idea that you may lose yourself, or someone you love. But for many people, they are not as scared for themselves as they are for other people. And I think that this holds true and is exemplified in The Probability of Miracles.
This book is full of joy, fear, and a tangible ache as Cam makes her way through what she is sure will be a very short life.
I would give this book to my best friend, or my mother. I would give this to my Aunt, or my fifteen year old cousin.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
Campbell Cooper is living with a disease that is beyond curing; neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is typically identified as a baby cancer, and in babies, it can be fairly harmless. But in adolescents, it is very difficult to treat, and has a very low rate of successful remissions.
She doesn’t believe in Miracles.
Cam finds a list that she had written with her best friend Lily, a fellow cancer patient. They had called it the Flamingo List, because neither of them liked “Bucket List”. Supposedly, just by writing it down, the list was supposed to come true.
The last item on the list, experiment in petty shoplifting, is the one Cam chooses. She calls Lily from the Dollar Store and asks her what she should steal. They decide on a plastic Flamingo. Having safely escaped the store, however, Cam has a seizure in the parking lot. After narrowly avoiding the manager of the store calling an ambulance, Cam goes home to tell her mother the news.
Her mother can’t accept it. Cam refuses to be treated. One of Cam’s mother’s friends suggests the town of Promise, Maine, as a miracle cure. Without telling Cam, her mother packs them up, and forces Cam to move to Promise, where fields of electric purple dandelions grow on the hills, and flamingos come to nest in February.
On the way, Cam insists on stopping to visit Lily, who has gotten a boyfriend. While she’s there, they get into a fight, and Cam leaves in a huff.
When Cam, her mother Alicia, and her younger sister, Perry, arrive in Promise, they discover that the hotel they had been planning to stay in is closed.
They stop at the lobster pound for dinner, and there they meet Asher, who offers to let them stay at his house. Cam insists that this is a terrible idea, but Alicia decides that this is a town of miracles, and it’s a very kind offer.
They stay at Asher’s. His “house” turns out to be a mansion, called Avalon by the Sea. In her first couple days, Cam manages to cross dabble in some innocent stalking behavior, lose my virginity at a keg party, have my heart broken by an asshole, and crush my little sisters dreams off her Flamingo list.
She gets a job at the vet’s office. The vet, who turns out to be a relative of Asher’s, tells Cam the story of Asher’s family. Cam, who is a hula dancer, improvises a dance as the vet talks.
Cam decides that she has to make miracles for her sister and her mother, who deserve to believe. (what Cam doesn’t see is that the miracles are happening right before her eyes; her
“blueberry spots” (dark spots across the inner side of her arms) have disappeared. She’s living in a house offered to her by a cute boy. She’s got more energy than ever.) Cam’s mother plants a garden. Cam goes out and gets full grown tomato plants and replaces the dying ones with those. Cam’s sister believes in unicorns. Cam convinces Asher to help her steal a donkey from the vet, and ties a unicorn horn to it. Unfortunately, her plan unravels when the “unicorn” runs into the sea and almost drowns.
Cam falls in love with Asher. Asher falls in love with Cam. Cam gets a letter from Lily. It’s Lily’s Flamingo list. Cam calls Lily’s parents. Lily has died.
Cam takes the “Make a Wish” Lily got for her, and kidnaps her little sister in order to take her with her to the wish; Disney Land. She takes Asher and a few friends, and brings her mothers boyfriend home to Promise, where he proposes to Alicia, who accepts.
Cam gets a high fever. She convinces Asher to help her finish Lily’s Flamingo List. They do it. They have a fight. Asher goes out on his boat, and is caught in the perfect storm. Cam’s mother discovers that she’s dying and rushes her to the hospital. The doctor tells them that she’s too far gone. Cam’s mother falls asleep. Asher arrives.
Cam looks out the window.