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The Wonder of All Things
     

The Wonder of All Things

4.2 6
by Jason Mott
 

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On the heels of his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love and sacrifice

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled

Overview

On the heels of his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love and sacrifice

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear.

Ava has an unusual gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child. But Ava's unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most.

Elegantly written, deeply intimate and emotionally astute, The Wonder of All Things is an unforgettable story and a poignant reminder of life's extraordinary gifts.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lyrically written, thought-provoking and emotionally searing.... Another fascinating and powerful reflection from Mott on how the real world reacts when the impossible happens.
-Kirkus

"Intriguing... remarkable... elegant."
-Booklist

"Mott shines."
-Publishers Weekly

"Equal parts supernatural thriller and coming-of-age tale....[Readers] will be captivated by this poignant story of loss and love-and rewarded with a rich cast of characters."
-Bookpage

"Spellbinding."
-People

"A heartwarming novel with unforgettable characters....Mott is an amazing writer and give readers an uplifting, spiritual look into one of life's extraordinary gifts."
-RT Book Reviews

"Lovely...A revelation."
-Bookreporter.com

Publishers Weekly
09/01/2014
In this follow-up to his bestselling novel The Returned, about the miraculous reappearance of the dead that became a television series (ABC’s Resurrection), Mott returns to miracles—this time with the story of young Ava Campbell, who saves the life of her best friend, Wash, in the aftermath of tragic air show accident. Thanks to a cell phone camera on the scene, millions witness the spectacular feat of Wash’s near-fatal wounds disappearing. Mott again transforms a small, peaceful town into a media maelstrom center as thousands descend on Stone Temple, N.C., for the chance to view or, more urgently, be healed by the astonishing Ava. A televangelist, Reverend Isaiah Brown, arrives to take advantage of the situation and forms an uneasy alliance with Ava’s father, Macon, the town sheriff. In an unfortunate touch of melodrama, Ava is increasingly debilitated every time she heals someone, and the book turns into a Jodi Picoult–type discourse on the rights of a healer threatened by her own powers versus the rights of those who wish, and perhaps deserve, to be healed. An overabundance of side stories—Isaiah’s complicated relationship with his damaged brother; Macon’s second wife Carmen’s difficult pregnancy; Wash’s troubled relationship with his newly returned father—tarnish the novel. But Mott shines in telling of the sweet, developing love between Ava and Wash. (Oct.)
Library Journal
10/15/2014
Ava Campbell, 13, and her best friend, Wash, watch as a plane at a local air show plummets from the sky. It crashes into the crowd and traps the two in the rubble of the observation tower. As crews race to reach them, a traumatized Ava reaches out and heals a severely injured Wash. The miraculous feat is captured on video and goes viral, turning the small town of Stone Temple, NC, into a frenzied mess of media, desperate people, and religious leaders. Suddenly, Ava is a "miracle child," and her future is being debated by doctors who want to study her, preachers who want to use her, and her father, the local sheriff, who doesn't know how to handle the sudden fame. Each time Ava heals, she gets weaker, and no one around her seems to see or care except Wash, and her pregnant stepmother, who is terrified of losing another baby. With time running out, Ava's choices will decide the future of her loved ones and how far she's willing to go to save them. VERDICT Mott delivers a poignant tale of love, loss, and miracles with crossover appeal for teen and Christian fiction readers even though religion is not shown in a favorable light through the lens of television ministry. The author's debut, The Returned (2013), was made into the ABC show Resurrection, and this novel has been optioned by Lionsgate for a feature film. Expect high demand where Mott's first book was popular. [See "ALA 2014 Galley Guide Discoveries," Prepub Alert, 6/30/14.]—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-21
When a small-town tragedy sets the stage for a miracle healing that goes viral, nothing will ever be the same for the community, the young healer or the people who love her. Stone Temple, North Carolina, is a typical small Southern town until the day a plane falls out of the sky. The aftermath of the horrific event finds a mortally injured boy, Wash, and his best friend, Ava, trapped in a pile of debris. As the townspeople try to rescue the young teens, many of them witness Ava lay her hands on Wash and heal him. By the time they've cleared the rubble, he's injury-free and a video of the miracle has hit the Internet. Wash and Ava are taken to a nearby hospital to undergo a battery of tests in an attempt to explain the phenomenon, but the only conclusion anyone can draw is that helping others takes an immense physical toll on Ava. A sea of people has descended on Stone Temple, meanwhile, expecting Miracle Girl to heal them. "She could not count how many reporters there were, how many cameras, how many people holding up signs that read ‘AVA'S REAL' and ‘IT'S A MIRACLE.' " As religious leaders, miracle seekers and a media circus make demands and threaten Ava's health and safety, the girl and her father, Macon, must deal with the public and private reality of Ava's gift, plus navigate health issues among their own friends and loved ones, including Macon's new wife, Carmen—who's suffering a problematic pregnancy and whom Ava doesn't like. Mott's follow-up to his stunning debut, The Returned (2013), is another creative yet haunting rendering of the mixed blessings of so-called miracles. Lyrically written, thought-provoking and emotionally searing, the book asks some unsettling questions about love, death, responsibility and sacrifice. Another fascinating and powerful reflection from Mott on how the real world reacts when the impossible happens.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778317852
Publisher:
MIRA
Publication date:
07/28/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
298,816
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

For once, Death took pity. That is what the people of Stone Temple would say in the time that came after. It was late autumn and the townspeople were preparing for an early winter. The clouds were heavy in the days before the Fall Festival and that always meant hard, cold months ahead. The festival was their way of saying goodbye to short sleeves and tourist season, cicadas and apple brandy on the front porch at sunset.

The highlight would be Matt Cooper, who would come and entertain them with stunts in his airplane. He was one of only two people to venture out from Stone Temple and return with the world knowing his name. He had become a pilot for a traveling air show troop and, when he could, he came to town with his red-white-and-blue-painted biplane to show the people of this small town that he had not forgotten them. He would land it in the open field where the town held festivals and barbecues, and the townspeople loved him not only for his stunts, but because of how he had defied the fates of so many others who left the town, were broken by the world and returned with their hats in hand.

So on the day of the festival, the Ferris wheel was set up along with the tents for games and vendors and places where sweet foods could be cooked and there was a competition for blue-ribbon vegetables and a competition for the best gingerbread recipe. The entire town came out and the air was sweet and thick for miles when the day got late and Matt Cooper finally climbed into his airplane and buzzed above the earth. The townspeople took seats in makeshift bleachers and the old concrete grain silo was converted into an announcing booth. A pair of men sat atop it calling out all of Matt Cooper's tricks and techniques. They frequently remarked on both the inherent danger and, whenever they could, on the fact that he was a native of Stone Temple who had "done good." Folks craned their necks and held their breaths.

The plane ascended—straight up, the propeller chopping air, the engine buzzing, the sound of it softening as it stretched the rubber band of gravity, lifting into the heavens. Mountains could be stacked between man and earth just then. Finally, the crowd could hold their breaths no longer. They exhaled and, even though they knew full well that Matt Cooper could not hear them, they applauded.

It was when the tide of their applause was receding that they heard the sound of the engine sputter. The drone was broken, then restarted, then broken again. It went this way three times before only silence fell from the sky above. The silence remained. Because the plane was so far above them, it took a moment for the crowd to understand that it was falling. For so very long it seemed to be stationary—a dim, red star burning in the distance. Then the silence washed away and there came the long, dark aria of a man—who the town of Stone Temple believed was the best of them—falling to earth.

It was difficult to measure the space of time between when Matt Cooper's plane began falling and when it finally crashed into the earth. Some would later say it was all too fast to understand. Others that they had never known horror could last so long. Then the waiting ended.

Matt Cooper was dead and there was a fire burning and the grain silo upon which the announcers had been seated lay broken, with the fragments of Matt Cooper's airplane scattered around it like dropped leaves. Everything was panic.

But for whatever reason that such things sometimes come to pass, fortune was kind. Debris from the plane washed over the crowd like sea foam. It left them bloodied and, in some cases, with broken bones, but Death stayed its hand. As people took stock of one another—still trying to douse the fire, still sifting through the rubble of the grain silo—the only death anyone could count was that of Matt Cooper, who died instantly when his plane hit the silo. Even the announcers, perched atop it like a bird, had somehow come out alive. The more time that came and went, the more people waited for bodies to be found—for the number of the living in this world to be lessened. But it was a day of miracles.

So it was with nervousness that the boy and girl were found buried in a pocket of concrete and steel beneath the grain silo. It was built with an infrastructure of steel piping that, when felled by the plane, created small pockets. Macon Campbell, the town sheriff——a dark-skinned, overworked man who had made it through the lion's share of his thirties with only a handful of things he wished he'd done differently—could just make out the pair of children held within the rubble. For a moment they were only shapes in dim lighting. Then he understood that one of them was his daughter, Ava. The other, her best friend, a boy named Wash.

The fear that came over him was like swallowed lightning.

"Ava!" he called out. "Ava! Wash! Can you hear me?"

His daughter responded by moving her hand. Her body was bent at an awkward angle—fetal, pulled in on itself like a ribbon—and she was half buried by debris. But she was alive. "Thank God," Macon said. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to get you out."

She looked up at him with fear and tears in her eyes. Her lip quivered and she looked around, as if trying to understand how all of this had happened, as if the world had broken some promise she had always believed in. There was concrete and steel around her—sharp and waiting to come crashing down.

"Can you move?" Macon asked.

She answered by moving. First her hand—slowly, tentatively. Then, little by little, the other parts of her body. There was concrete atop her legs but, after some maneuvering, she freed herself.

"Don't move too much," Macon said. He spoke through a small, narrow breach in the rubble. He could fit his arm and part of his shoulder through it, but that was all. It would take help and time to move the rubble and safely get to the children. He called to the crowd behind him for help. "There are children here," he shouted.

It was after she had gotten her legs free that Ava saw the boy, Wash. He was unconscious and buried up to his chest in rubble. "Wash?" she said. He did not answer and she could not tell if he was breathing. "Wash?" she called again. His face was streaked with dust and there was a small bruise on his brow. By nature, the boy was pale—something that Ava teased him about as often as she could manage—but, just now, there was something different in his pallor. He looked blanched, like a photograph left too long in the sun. It was then that she saw the steel rod jutting out of his side, and the blood seeping from the wound. "Wash!" Ava yelled, and she started crawling toward him.

"Ava, don't move," Macon yelled. Again he tried to fit through the small gap in the rubble. Again only his arm and shoulder fit. "Ava, be still," he said. "This thing isn't stable."

She did not stop. She only kept her eyes on Wash, and continued crawling toward him. When she reached the boy she whispered his name. When he did not reply she put her hands on his face and hoped to feel something that might indicate that he was alive. Then she leaned close to his face, just above his open mouth, and tried to feel his breath. But it was difficult to tell what she was feeling. She was bruised and scratched from the fallen silo. She was frightened. Every nerve of her body seemed to be speaking to her at once. It drowned out any breathing she might have felt slide from Wash's lips.

"Is he alive?" Macon called.

"I don't know," Ava replied. "He's hurt." She placed her hand on his neck and hoped for a pulse, but her hands were shaking and the only heartbeat she could feel was the frightened thundering of her own.

"How is he hurt?" Macon asked. Finally help was arriving—firemen and volunteers. But they were only in the beginning stages of solving the riddle of how to stabilize the debris and get to the children.

Ava heard her father barking orders. She heard people shouting replies. There was talk of two-by-fours, steel rods, floor jacks, cranes. It soon became simply a choir of garbled voices. For Ava, there was only the wound in Wash's side, the sight of his blood spilling into the dust.

"I've got to do something," Ava said. She gripped him beneath his shoulders.

"No," Macon yelled. "Don't move him. Don't touch him."

But it was too late. She tugged at his shoulders and, as soon as she did, the debris that was covering him shifted in one great, awful lurch. The steel rod that was protruding into his side came free. His blood flowed faster. Macon called out for more help.

Ava cried. She said, over and over again in a terrified voice, "I'm sorry… I'm sorry…" Her hands leaped nervously in front of her. She did not know where to put them. She was torn between her desire to help the boy and the truth that what she had just done made things worse.

"Ava!" Macon called. Eventually, his daughter heard him.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Don't think about it," Macon replied. "Just put your hands over the wound. Put your hands over it to help slow the bleeding. Just hold on." For a third time, even though he knew it was pointless, he tried to maneuver his way through the small opening in the rubble. For a third time he failed. "Just put your hands on his side and press down, baby," he said.

Slowly, Ava pressed her hands over Wash's side. She felt the pulse of his blood as it spilled over her hands. She closed her eyes and cried. She hoped. She prayed. She called out to a god that, being only thirteen, she did not know that she understood or even believed in. But, just now, at this moment, she would believe in anything or anyone. She would give anything for her best friend to live, to be healed.

And then there was something akin to cold in her hands. A numbness in her palms and a feeling of needles racing up the length of her arms. The sound of her father calling for her faded away. The sound of everything receded and the darkness of her closed eyes was darker than any she had ever experienced before.

In the darkness, she saw him. Wash. He stood in the center of the darkness, the pale hue of his skin almost glowing. He was bruised and there was a cut on his brow. His clothes were covered with dirt from the fallen grain silo. The right side of his shirt was torn and there was blood pouring from the wound. But the boy did not seem to notice any of this. He only looked at Ava with a face that betrayed nothing.

"It's okay," Wash said. But, somehow, his words were in the voice of Ava's mother—dead for five years now. "It's going to be okay." He smiled—the small freckles dotting his face looked like cinnamon sprinkled over cloth. When he laughed, he laughed in the voice of Ava's mother.

Then Ava's eyes were open. Her father was still shouting her name. Her body was still bruised and sore. She still kneeled beside Wash with her hands covering his side—her fingers sticky with blood. She heard ambulances. She heard yelling. She heard people crying—crying out of fear, crying at the loss of Matt Cooper, crying because they could not understand how the day had turned so harsh so quickly.

Then she heard the sound of Wash's voice.

"Ava?" Wash said, opening his eyes. "Ava? What did you do?" He reached across his stomach and placed his left hand atop hers.

"No, Wash!" she said quickly. "I have to keep my hands over it! You're bleeding! I've got to stop the bleeding!" But there was no strength in her. She felt light-headed and could not resist as Wash took her hands away.

Beneath where her hands had been—where, once, there was a steel rod protruding into the boy, puncturing organs and promising that even the lives of children were not guaranteed in this world—there was only the boy's skin, perfect and unharmed.

"What did you do?" Wash asked again, looking up at her.

Then, for Ava, the world began to slide, as if the hinges that kept the earth level were broken. The sight of Wash became a glimmering dimness. Then the dimness faded, replaced by an empty, unbounded darkness.

Meet the Author

Jason Mott holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. Jason lives in North Carolina.

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The Wonder of All Things 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
heathercm2001 More than 1 year ago
I won this book through Goodreads, and I was very excited to read it because I had not read Jason Mott before. I really enjoyed it. I feel like I became very close with each of the characters in this book. Tragedy strikes the small town of Stone Temple, and the whole town is turned upside down. You get to see how each person is handling the aftermath, and the revelation of Ava's gift. The various perspectives make for a very interesting story, that is also very touching and thought-provoking. I felt the book was very subtle in that many of the pivotal parts of the story are kind of slipped in, letting the reader react to it and interpret it on their own. I really liked how it was done. Ava never wanted attention, so the subtlety really fits with her. The character development was great! I learned so much about everyone slowly, and with a lot of surprises. You think you know someone until one of the unexpected moments arrives. It really was done extremely well. I don't want to give away too much, but this book is definitely worth reading. It's not full of action-packed excitement, but it is full of those profound words, actions, and thoughts that will have an impact even well after you have finished it. Very moving!
TotallyFAB More than 1 year ago
Like The Returned, The Wonder of all Things is a story about the reaction of people when an extraordinary event occurs. Mott challenges religious beliefs, as well as social, and personal in both books. The Wonder of all Things feels more personal, it makes you think, "what would I do? what would i believe?" I love the way the characters all feel like family, neighbor or friend. The event and the interaction of the characters makes the story never dull. Real life playing out in a real state in a surreal circumstance. Like the end of The Returned, I find myself eagerly waiting for Mott's next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw Mr Mott in an interview on tv. His interview made me want to read the book. I was not disappointed . Highly recommend
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
An interesting book set in a small town that gets overthrown by a new story that will take the town by surprise and affect everyone. During a very fun day in Stone Temple, NC, an air show is taking place with the comeback kid doing stunts in his airplane when his engine shuts down and he crashes, in the wake of his crash - Ava heals her best friend Wash and basically saves his life. From there the whole town wants Ava to heal their family members or themselves, but when Ava heals people, she takes on their pain and is recovering less and less with each healing. Yes this book had a little magic to it, but it was enough to enjoy, but not too much that I didn't like it. I liked that yes Ava healed Wash and a few others in the book, but the story was more than her healing it was more about relationships and especially parent child relationships. I loved reading the ups and downs of parent child relationships and I am not sure I read a ton of books that deal with small children and their parents and I enjoyed this one. I would definitely recommend this book and even more so if you are hesitant to read books with magical realism.
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