Arts + Culture

Review: The Wonder

Summary from Goodreads:

“An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.


Before I rave about this book, let it be known that I have not read Emma Donoghue before, so she is a new author to me.

The Wonder has been my favourite book so far this year! It was perfect. The tone of the story at the beginning is simple and hopeless – Lib expects to just get in and out of the O’Donnell residence, basically. She plans to find out what is going on with this “wonder” child, Anna O’Donnell, and get back to England where living standards are normal. As the ending comes, a tone of hope, redemption, and new beginnings takes over.

I am a person who prefers more character development rather than plot, which is probably what makes The Wonder that much better for me. Lib is so fascinating. We need to remember, she’s a Nightingale nurse just thrown into this strange watch job, in a strange country, with even stranger people. She has no idea about their customs, and their strict religious practices makes this 10 times worse for her. I think she did a pretty good job trying to keep all the hate away from her and just focus on what she has to do.

Religion, loyalty, and mystery is what drives the plot forward though. The O’Donnell family and their religious beliefs, the loyalty Anna has towards her family (including the loyalty Lib has to her nursing teacher), and finally the mystery behind what really goes on behind closed doors. The Wonder had me at the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. Even better – there are not many breaks in between, so it felt like I breezed through this book fairly quickly (which reflects how quickly Lib’s two-week watch went by, and how quickly Anna deteriorates).

Overall Opinion:

5/5. The writing style is beautiful, compelling, and left me wanting more. As a new reader of Emma Donoghue, I’m very impressed with her writing style and talent. I love the adventure she took me on while reading this book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has yet to pick up an Emma Donoghue book, or has read another book of hers and wants more. So basically, everyone should read The Wonder.

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