Hale’s debut novel presents the story of a woman who awakes from a coma with a message from God.
Leah Warner survived a car crash but is now in a coma from which she isn’t expected to awake. Somehow, she does; also, the broken bones and extensive skin lacerations have begun to heal at an extraordinary rate. A medical miracle? Leah believes it’s a divine one. In her coma, she saw God, who has sent her back to Earth with a message: “It is a message of love. God loves us and wants us to love each other in the same way. God wants us to embrace humility and selflessness instead of acquisition and achievement.” The novel then uses the familiar device of framing a philosophical discussion as fiction: in this case, the question is over what sort of evidence the public will accept as proof of the existence of God. What follows is an account of Leah’s attempts to deliver her message, drawing the adoration of some and the ire of others. Her story is intercut with lectures by professor Stephen Bradshaw—“widely considered one of the four or five most influential living philosophers.” His lectures often revolve around the ubiquity of inductive reasoning in life: “Just because our senses have been accurate before does not guarantee that they are accurate now.” The ideas are interesting, deliberative, and intellectually honest, and readers curious about the limitations of scientific knowledge and atheism should enjoy this book in the same way one enjoys a good staged discussion series. Fans of fiction, however, won’t find much beyond philosophy; there’s little plot. Hale is a great craftsman of dialogue; he is less adept at scenes, where movement is often blocky and reminiscent of stage direction. Most disappointingly, the characters are not quite characters so much as they are stand-ins for various intellectual perspectives, and as such, the reader’s emotional investment never becomes very large.
A stimulating philosophical work that’s short on storytelling.