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Elizabeth Wright (Lib) is a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war, and now she has a particular task: she has to watch continuously, in alternation with another person, for two weeks Anna O’Donnell.
Anna is an eleven years old girl who has not eat for four months, and despite this – the story takes place in August – she seems healthy: is it a miracle or a vulgar hoax?
Lib begins her monitoring with the aim to find the trick, but soon she struggles to comprehend the habits of the little Irish town, where every gesture is imbued in religion and superstition.
Lib grows fond of Anna, and disconcerted about the behaviour of the adult people around the girl: the mother proud that the child is taken as a saint, the doctor that sees the girl as a scientific experiment, people who come to visit the girl to touch the living miracle.
Lib will find herself impeded by this suffocating atmosphere, where everybody is interested in the child but not about her health, even in case of death they will hide in their religion, interpreted in the most strict and radical way possible.
Lib is the external elements that contributes in changing the situation, she is different because of her religion, her practical approach and her desire to actually help Anna: Lib does not simply observe and report – as the other guardian, Sister Micheal, does – but act in the static context.
The author wrote also Room, that gathered conflicting opinions, and I didn’t know what to expect from The Wonder, that is interesting for the historical context, middle XIX century Ireland, some years after the Great Famine and the interreligious little town, and engaging in the last part (while the beginning is quite slow-paced).
The author chooses to tell the story from Lib’s POV, and in my opinion this works well also for the characterization (that is not objective but subjective to Lib’s opinion).
Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.
* The Wonder by Emma Donoghue ★★★★☆
*I read this book in english