The ALAN Review - Lisa Wroble
Fourteen-year-old Charity's summer vacation is anything but boring when Adrienne Dabney comes to town. An artist, Adrienne is conducting a sensory-deprivation experiment to heighten her creativity. Locking herself in her family home for a month, she emerges, claiming to have been visited by Jesus. Send Me Down a Miracle is about relationships among family, among friends, and among members of a small town. It is also about the power of hope and faith, in self and in others. Torn between being the good little preacher's daughter and her adoration of Adrienne's free spirit, Charity grows to see her father, whom she idolizes, as fallible. The glamour Charity at first saw in Adrienne fades as she realizes apparent caring and encouragement may have selfish undertones. Han Nolan uses dialect and characterization to lighten the tone of Charity's discoveries. The use of first person, as if Charity is recalling the past event, is face-paced and rarely falters.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8Charity Pittman is attracted to the strange woman who moves into the small Alabama town where she, her sister Grace, and their preacher father live. Adrienne Dabney, an artist from New York, wants to try a deprivation experiment in her inherited home, despite the minister's objections. She proceeds, locking herself up in her house without light, visitors, or food. Three weeks later, Adrienne emerges to say that she has seen Jesus sitting in a chair in her living room, and soon a religious turmoil splits the town in half. Charity's father insists that the woman is evil incarnate. Charity believes in the chair and its powers so deeply that she defiantly stands up to her stern, stubborn father when he comes to destroy it. The dichotomy of professing one's faith and actually living it is interestingly portrayed throughout this novel. Nolan blends realistic beliefs and actions into an intimate depiction of a small Southern town's personality. The essence of this story evolves gradually, drawing readers into the mind and heart of a young girl who must learn to meld her religious upbringing with her ability to understand and forgive others. The southern dialect might deter some readers, but all in all, this is a commendable, thought-provoking choice.Jana R. Fine, Clearwater Public Library System, FL
A fresh voice and an enigmatic subject combine to make kids engage in an activity they probably don't do much--contemplate. Life changes for 14-year-old Charity when her mother leaves Casper, Alabama, for a birdcage collectors convention and artist Adrienne Dabney comes to town. Adrienne locks herself in her house for a month as an artistic sensory-deprivation experiment. When she emerges, Adrienne tells her neighbors she has seen a vision of Jesus sitting in her living-room chair. Then all hell breaks loose. The plot is intricate, sharp, and invigorating. Charity's father is the local pastor and reacts with the fury of an Old Testament prophet because he thinks the townsfolk, who believe in the vision, are bowing down to idols. Charity is caught in the middle. She loves her prickly, proud father, but she is also enamored of Adrienne, who has taken the girl under her wing as a fellow "artist." Although the vision and its ramifications are the core of the story, its layers are the wonderfully quirky and complex townspeople of Casper: Charity's best friend, Sharalee, who prays to Jesus to be Miss Peanut and binges on moon pies at night; bald little Boo, who sits on his step expecting the Rapture; and Mad Joe, the handyman, waiting for his twin daughters to die of sickle-cell anemia, praying for a miracle, and heading for disaster. Like "The War of Jenkins' Ear" ("Booklist"'s 1995 Top of the List choice for youth fiction), this treats religion as something central to a person's life, not just flotsam on the periphery. As many of the people in this book learn, however, though belief can be something you stand by or even die for, it's not worth much unless it's leavened by love.
An apparent miracle stands tiny Casper, Alabama, on its ear in this busy, hilarious, tragic story from the author of If I Should Die Before I Wake (1994).
Charity Pittman's father is a preacher, and she fully intends to follow in his footsteps until she meets Adrienne Dabney. This New York City artist has moved into a boarded-up house for a month of meditation; at the end of the month, Adrienne emerges with stunning news: three times Jesus Christ sat in a chair and brought her visions. Despite Reverend Pittman's purple-faced anger, awestruck townsfolk quickly line up to see the chair and offer prayers; there's even talk of a Second Coming. Nolan's country characters are notquitecaricatures, and one's habit of blasting away at the ground with a shotgun, or another's prayer-bolstered resolve to lose 25 pounds, often masks profound hurts or needs. In the wake of a church service that is both intense andbecause Charity accidently wears her musical Christmas sockssidesplitting, the story takes a horrifying turn. Readers will be dizzied by the multiple subplots and roller-coaster highs and lows in this portrait of a small town that is anything but quiet.
From the Publisher
"Hilarious."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Thought-provoking."--School Library Journal (starred review)
"The plot is intricate, sharp, and invigorating."--Booklist (starred review)