Advance praise for Maybe a Miracle
"As tender as a slow dance, as rebellious as a hip-hop song, and an uttery joy. Brian Strause manages to convince the reader that mere human life is the greatest sin and salvationwith room for belief, betrayal, the beneficence of baseball, folly, and forgiveness."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN and THE BREAKDOWN LANE
"Brian Strause's MAYBE A MIRACLE starts out somewhere not far from J.D. Salinger's rye field, but it ends up in a new and strange and marvelous place where only this extraordinary first novelist could take it."
Madison Smartt Bell, author of THE STONE THAT THE BUILDER REFUSED
“Laugh-out-loud funny, provocative and unique.”
“Monroe is clever and quizzical. His observations are often funny, and he’s a keen and self-aware observer of contemporary American life. . . . The novel balances the peace of Monroe's mother brought to dozen of sick people against the damage her actions may have caused Annika, and it has the grace to leave such ultimate questions unanswered.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Emotionally charged. . . . The devastating power of this tragedy is brilliantly portrayed with both the gritty realism and sarcasm that only an eighteen-year-old boy can convey. But this novel truly stands out because of its singular premise: Can one family ever completely recover from a brush with tragedy?”
“A wonderfully fresh voice that is, irresistibly, both profound and profane. . . . Monroe is a captivating narrator who will both delight and outrage readers while also making them think; nothing escapes his dead-on riffs about today’s tumultuous political and religious landscape. Sure to hit the book club circuit with a vengeance, this debut is highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Monroe’s voice draws the reader in. . . . Crisp writing and a multifaceted, likable central character distinguish this first novel.”
"Strause juxtaposes the caustic and the poignant in his first novel...The metaphysical runs up against the mundane with darkly comic ambiguity...Holds the reader."
"Heartbreaking and humorous."
—Somerset, Pennsylvania Daily American
Monroe is clever and quizzical. His observations are often funny, and he's a keen and self-aware observer of contemporary American life. Brian Strause's writing overall is clean and skilled, and the dialogue is believable. But none of the characters other than Monroe really comes to life.
The Washington Post
Strause juxtaposes the caustic and the poignant in his first novel, a pitch-perfect teenage take on human failings and superhuman spectacle in central Ohio. Monroe Anderson, stealing away to smoke pot before his senior prom, discovers his vivacious, sensitive 11-year-old sister, Annika, face down in their pool. He saves her life, but she remains in a coma. A crowd of well-wishers pray beneath Annika's hospital window, and it's not too long before the miracles begin: rose petals rain from the sky; Annika's hands bleed like stigmata. Soon Annika is inspiring letters, pleas and pilgrimages from the nation's sick and grieving, whom Monroe alternately pities and scorns, as he does the family priest who promotes Annika as a latter-day Jesus. The media fuels the frenzy, and Monroe's mother dolls Annika up for her visitors with feverish optimism. Monroe's workaholic father and loutish older brother also reveal their fragilities in the crucible of Annika's prolonged coma, an estranging rather than unifying force. The metaphysical runs up against the mundane with darkly comic ambiguity. "If Annika had the power to heal, wouldn't she heal herself first... and go into the kitchen and make everyone pancakes?" Monroe thinks. Monroe's barbed detachment and biting sarcasm, tempered by the awe that steals over him at unguarded moments, hold the reader even when the plot crawls. 10-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
According to 18-year-old Monroe Anderson, it's no big deal that he jumped into the family swimming pool to save the life of his little sister, floating face down. He's just grateful that he'd been heading to the pool house to get high before attending his senior prom. In a wonderfully fresh voice that is, irresistibly, both profound and profane, Monroe narrates the transformation of Annika from near-drowning victim into religious icon. Monroe is a sincerely committed atheist caught in the chaos surrounding the comatose Annika, who seems to have developed powers of healing. As word of Annika's gift leaks out, throngs of desperate pilgrims demand access. Monroe can't explain her stigmata or the turn-arounds in health that take place in her presence, but he faithfully reports what he sees. While his family splinters under the pressure, Monroe struggles to protect Annika from the spectacle that threatens to engulf her. Monroe is a captivating narrator who will both delight and outrage readers while also making them think; nothing escapes his dead-on riffs about today's tumultous political and religious landscape. Sure to hit the book club circuit with a vengeance, this debut is highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/05.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Debut featuring a wisenheimer young hero with a little sister who may or may not be a living saint. One may be forgiven for thinking off the bat that first-person narrator Monroe Anderson-young, cynical, frustrated and perhaps a little too clever for his own good-is just another Holden Caulfield wannabe. But the novel takes an unexpected turn when Monroe-on his way to the pool house to get high before prom-finds his little sister Annicka floating face-down and motionless in the deep end. Monroe dives in after her, and, in doing so, not only rescues the ten-year-old, but also launches a series of events that give him substantial fodder for adolescent philosophizing, and which give his story a unique and intriguing shape. Annicka emerges from the pool alive but unconscious. A pretty little girl in a coma, she elicits considerable attention in her community and in the media-attention that only increases when Annicka seems to be the source of miracles, beginning with a shower of rose petals and culminating in stigmata and reports of faith-healing. Thus, Monroe must contend not just with the usual crises and calamities of young adulthood-most of them having to do with sex or the absence of same-but he also has to deal with the loss of his sister and the growing congregation of Annicka's devotees, a group that includes his newly devout mother. Monroe is a precocious and kind-hearted theologian, and he asks some trenchant questions of a religion that not only accepts suffering, but promotes it, and although Krause is sometimes too willing to end his chapters with pithy aphorisms, he is ultimately wise enough to leave many of the thorny metaphysical and ethical questions his novel examinesunanswered. An original take on a boy's coming-of-age and a sly, thoughtful look at the complexities of faith.