I think I like Elizabeth’s Scott writing more with each of her books. When I started out, I felt like I was missing something. I enjoyed the first book I read (Love You, Hate You, Miss You), but I didn’t quite understand the reverence with which Scott’s name was met in parts of my circle of reader-friends. Since then I’ve read most of her books, recently finishing Miracle, and I need to say: I get it now. I’ve previously commented on the brevity of Scott’s novels and the sparseness of her writing, but I’m going to reiterate my appreciation of it now. Perhaps because I read Miracle on the heels of another contemporary YA that dealt with complex issues, the sharpness seemed even more apparent when compared with the latter’s florid, dramatic prose. Tellingly, Miracle was the novel I felt more skilfully handled its subject matter, and the novel that I ultimately found the most moving. Scott’s ability to exercise to restraint in her writing seems to have the effect of distilling her stories into the most potent, concentrated form. In 224 pages, she packs a powerful punch to the emotions. In my opinion Scott has always written authentic teenage voices, and in Miracle she retains this accessible tone even in light of her main character’s extraordinary circumstances. Megan is the eponymous “miracle”, the sole survivor of a plane crash who walks away from the wreckage with only superficial physical injuries. It’s a premise with the odds stacked against it, requiring considerable reader buy-in, yet this doesn’t result in alienating readers from Megan. Rather, Scott anchors Megan’s story in familiar things – family, friends, school, community – creating a relatable frame of reference through which to explore Megan’s PTSD. While Megan emerges from the tragedy physically unscathed, the mental and emotional trauma she sustains and the repercussions thereof are the focus of the novel. Scott’s treatment of the subject of PTSD is unflinchingly frank, and you can read more about why that is here. Scott lays bare the realities of Megan’s situation, handling with particular honesty the way it impacts the people around her, and the confusion, frustration and isolation it results in. Of note here is the choice Scott has made in the way Megan’s PTSD manifests – in withdrawal and detachment – meaning that Megan’s actions are not always necessarily sympathetic. Throughout the novel, Scott doesn’t shield the reader from Megan’s difficult thought patterns, her anger or disconnection. And I applaud Scott’s decision, for challenging ideas about PTSD and for the integrity of her portrayal. I think this goes a long way to promoting understanding of an anxiety disorder that does not necessarily present in a uniform manner. Sufferers of PTSD may have vastly different experiences, and Scott draws attention to this fact through Megan’s story. Miracle has a cast of strong, well developed secondary characters that add dimension to the plot, and to Megan herself. By contrasting diverse characters with a “small-town mentality” (whether that’s perception or reality), Scott prompts discussion around judgement and acceptance. This is most notable in Margaret and Joe, and how their experiences with prejudice, marginalisation and grief assist Megan in confronting her own issues, and reconnecting with her world. (On a related note, can I just state for the record that I think Scott is a master of chemistry? She can get me genuinely invested in character relationships without a single stomach pterodactyl in sight.)Given the topic, Miracle is not exactly a book with universal appeal, although I’d argue that there are nuances to the story that would have widespread resonance. However, for anyone interested in a powerful and honest depiction of PTSD and the problematic nature of labelling (both negatively and positively), I would recommend this compelling, candid novel. * * * * * This book punched me right in the FEELS. Review to come..