ORDINARY MIRACLES by Stephanie S. Tolan


Age Range: 12 - 14
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Raised in a Christian family by a father who is a staunch fundamentalist minister, twins Matthew and Mark Filkins come to terms with their religious beliefs when a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist returns to the town of Bradyville, Ohio. Colin Hendrick is dying of cancer and wants to spend his final days in his hometown. He teaches Mark and Matthew’s eight-grade class about the web of life and the ordinary miracle of the minuscule organisms that fill the air and water. Even before Colin shows up, Mark has begun to question the “twin thing,” and to assert his individuality. On the role of science, he has genuine disagreements with Matthew and their father, who both believe that genetic engineering is tampering with God’s creation; Mark takes Colin’s view, that God and man are co-creators. Tolan (The Face In the Mirror, 1998, etc.) exhibits laudatory scope as she attempts to reconcile the strict beliefs of the fundamentalist family from Save Halloween! (1993) with the modern world; she strives for evenhandedness, though often at the expense of the story, interrupting the narrative for long religious and scientific explanations. The characterization of Mark is both well-rounded and believable; readers will identify with this down-to-earth teenager as he struggles to find his own identity, understand the values of his parents, and come to his own conclusions about the merits of faith and science. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16269-X
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999