The Miracle Stealer

( 2 )


The second YA novel from the author of the critically acclaimed ST. MICHAEL'S SCALES will twist you in knots with its suspenseful and shattering take on faith, hope, and miracles.

Andi Grant adores her 6-year-old brother Daniel, a "miracle child" who fell down a mine shaft and survived. People regularly come to him for blessings and healings (which sometimes seem to work), and Andi is horrified by his exploitation, esp. when she finds signs of a stalker around their home. With ...

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The Miracle Stealer

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The second YA novel from the author of the critically acclaimed ST. MICHAEL'S SCALES will twist you in knots with its suspenseful and shattering take on faith, hope, and miracles.

Andi Grant adores her 6-year-old brother Daniel, a "miracle child" who fell down a mine shaft and survived. People regularly come to him for blessings and healings (which sometimes seem to work), and Andi is horrified by his exploitation, esp. when she finds signs of a stalker around their home. With the help of her once-and-maybe-future boyfriend Jeff, she comes up with a plan so audacious, so dramatic, it will stop the attention on Daniel forever: an "Anti-Miracle" that will unravel with the slightest examination of the facts, and cast doubt on Daniel's powers forever after. (cont.)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Big questions of faith, vocation, the power of prayer, and the possibility of miracles weave throughout this provocative and suspenseful tale, in which inexplicable occurrences in nature and interpersonal relationships lead individuals and communities to deep spiritual longings. How could a three-year-old boy survive being buried alive for three days? Why would a loving father abandon his family? Did a long-dead woman's curse cause a lake's fish to die? Nineteen-year-old Anderson narrates her rationalistic battle against her mother and the townspeople of Paradise, Pa., who blend superstitious beliefs with testimonial-based, community-led Christian worship, and perceive Daniel's astonishing rescue as a miraculous sign. When neighbors begin attributing healings and transformations to her brother, now six years old, and demanding his prayers, Anderson reminds Daniel, "you ain't special." Increasingly frightened for Daniel's safety and well-being, she undertakes a plan to dispel belief in Daniel's "special" powers, at great personal risk. Deftly avoiding stereotypes and caricatures, Connelly (Michael's Scales) creates an alternately ominous and wholesome atmosphere in which the mysteries of friendship, hope, sacrifice, love, and prayer reveal a community's spiritual complexity. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Heather Christensen
Ever since Daniel Grant's miraculous rescue from a fall down a twenty-foot-deep hole, folks from his small town of Paradise have attributed every positive outcome to his presence. His older sister, Anderson (or Andi, as she is frequently called) is pretty sure these are coincidences—not miracles—and worries what the psychological effect of the towns' expectations of her brother will have on his five-year-old self. When a group of pilgrims descends on the town in hopes of benefitting from Daniel's "healing touch," some of the town's leaders realize that his reputation could restore the small town's former status as a tourist destination. Andi's fears of the potential exploitation of Daniel, and a confrontation with a creepy pilgrim she privately refers to as "Scarecrow," lead her to the conclusion she must take drastic measures to stop the religious fervor surrounding her innocent brother. Connelly's depiction of Andi's crisis of faith as she questions her own religious upbringing and the beliefs of those around her is both sensitive and genuine. Her anger with God and those who, in her mind, are abusing their authority feels authentic and will resonate with many teens who have similar questions. While her return to faith may seem a bit rushed, the events leading to and culminating in this acceptance are nail-biting in their intensity. The ending is satisfying, offering hope while acknowledging that not all questions can be answered. Reviewer: Heather Christensen
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Andi Grant's little brother is said to have spiritual powers. Years previously while Andi and her then boyfriend Jeff were wandering with him in the woods, Daniel slid into an old mining tunnel. Against all odds, he was pulled out alive and that's when the requests for his prayers and the supposed results began. Not everyone believes in his powers, including nineteen year old Andi, but when a strange man appears in town to "test" the boy, Andi knows that something must be done to protect her brother from fanatics. Now the start of the town festival draws people in from all over. Andi knows that they come because they have been told that they will be able to see the "Miracle Boy." Because their father abandoned them years earlier, Andi feels that she is the only one who can save her brother from the throngs of people coming into town—and from their mother. Andi fears that the fanatic believers will not respond well when they realize Daniel is just a kid, a fear based on recent events: When the police chief's wife died, it was said that Daniel was not praying hard enough to save her. Andi is an angry young woman who pushes people away, but it is clear the growing crowd could be dangerous. So with the help of her former boyfriend, Andi develops an elaborate scheme that will force people into realizing the horrendous mistake they have made putting their faith in a little boy. This is a compelling novel, raising the question of what it means to believe. Family relationships are complicated and many teens will connect with the difficulties between Andi and her mother and the love between brother and sister. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—When Andi Grant's brother, Daniel, was three, he survived being buried for three days after falling down an old well. The residents of Paradise, PA, have prayed together for his life, rejoiced and praised God when he was recovered alive, and the townspeople slowly begin to believe that he could perform miracles. Andi, a teen who has always had solid faith, sees it begin to crumble as the pressures grow for Daniel to intercede with God. She is happy to see the mania stop after Daniel's prayers are unable to save a dying woman, but three years later, he "assists" in the birth of a baby, and it starts again. This story is complicated, but Connelly paces it well. However, the novel might have a problematic religious stance for some readers. A few elements seem to suggest that Andi was punished by God as she and her boyfriend were considering having sex for the first time when Daniel fell down the well. An avid runner, she loses her leg during an attempt to stage an accident to debunk her brother. The main characters lack believability. Daniel's mother has no problem with her three-year-old son being pressured into interceding for an entire town. Andi has little internal dialogue as she wrestles with her beliefs. Nor does she attempt to talk with anyone about the possibility of miracles. Daniel, as both a three- and a six-year-old, seems to be unfazed by the scads of believers who flock to him seeking help. If readers are not bothered by the lackluster attention paid to the deep questions raised and focus solely on the action, they could be satisfied.—Emily Chornomaz, West Orange Public Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

Can religious fervor spur economic development? And should it? Three years ago, the citizens of the small town of Paradise, Penn., witnessed a miracle—or at least they chose to believe they did—when three-year-old Daniel was pulled from a collapsed well after being trapped for three days. Following Daniel's rescue, cancers were cured, adoptions approved and babies conceived—all miracles attributed to Daniel. Fast-forwarding three years, Paradise has fallen on harsh times, and Daniel is called to pray at the bedside of a pregnant woman with a history of difficulties. A baby named Miracle is born, and news of the birth spreads across the country, attracting pilgrims seeking Daniel's intercession to Paradise. At this story's core is Daniel's teenage sister, Andi, the clear-voiced narrator who is determined to protect Daniel from the pilgrims' fanaticism, and those in the town hoping to benefit from his fame. A thought-provoking examination of the power of faith and the human desire for a savior. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545131957
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,477,381
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Connelly's first YA novel, ST. MICHAEL'S SCALES, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He teaches creative writing at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife and their two sons.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for Teens Read Too

    It all started when little Daniel disappeared. Anderson (Andi) and her friend, Jeff, were told they had to take Danny with them on their walk. They hiked through the woods to the fairy fort. The two teens only took their eyes off him for a minute. Danny was gone. A frantic search followed, only to discover Danny had fallen some twenty feet down into an abandoned well. The rescue effort that followed lasted three days. Most of the volunteers and townspeople thought little Danny would not survive, but somehow the heartfelt prayers of the faithful worked a miracle and the little boy was rescued and simply treated for cuts and bruises. After Danny's rescue, strange things began to happen in and around the town of Paradise, Pennsylvania. Danny's miraculous survival seemed to be contagious. Many believers began to credit him with healing the sick, communicating with the lost, and even bringing the fish back to the local lake. He had become the "Miracle Boy." The problem was that Danny was now several years older, and when he was called upon to "pray" for some miracle cure or recovery, his older sister, Andi, worried that he didn't truly have any special powers. What if one day his prayers weren't answered? Would he understand or would he take the failure to heart and shoulder unbearable guilt? Why wouldn't people just leave him alone? Andi has seen enough. Her mother seems to want to exploit Danny and his miracle cures. Andi blames her mother for driving away her father. Anger as well as fear for her brother's safety is driving Andi to devise a cunning and dangerous plan to convince Danny's followers that he is just a normal little boy. Will she succeed before well-meaning locals and nutcases coming from near and far manage to ruin the life of her innocent little brother? THE MIRACLE STEALER is the story of faith. Is faith something that can be proven with facts, or is it the feeling that what happens is controlled by a higher authority? Author Neil Connelly takes readers on a journey with Andi as she struggles to decide if she has faith or if fate depends on her actions alone. It is a struggle many face, often more than once in life. Connelly's story will speak to many and perhaps answer the question for some.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2010

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