MIRACULOUS, by Caroline Starr Rose, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, July 26, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10 and up)
A town is turned upside down when a traveling doctor arrives with a cure-all tonic in Caroline Starr Rose’s new middle-grade novel, Miraculous.
Thirteen-year-old Jack knows what cured his baby sister when his family thought she might never get well — Dr. Kingsbury’s “Miraculous Tonic.” Guaranteed to relieve maladies known to man or beast, Dr. Kingsbury’s potion can cure everything from pimples to hearing loss to a broken heart, and Jack himself is a witness to the miraculous results and the doctor’s kindness. When he had no money, the doctor didn’t turn him away but gave him the tonic for free along with a job — to travel with him from city to city selling his cure-all elixir.
When Dr. Kingsbury and Jack arrive in Oakdale, the town at first feels like any other they’ve been to. But it’s clear Oakdale is a town with secrets, and its citizens are slow to trust strangers.
Then Jack meets Cora, and a friendship neither expected starts to bloom. Together they uncover something else they didn’t expect — not only secrets about the town but also Dr. Kingsbury. As they race to discover the truth, they’ll have to decide who and what to believe before it’s too late. —Synopsis provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
At a glance, Miraculous is about a traveling salesman and how his appearance in a small town effects its residents. But the story is much more than that. It’s a mystery. It’s a story of friendship. And it’s a story about trusting yourself and the people around you to do the right thing.
Miraculous is historical fiction set in the 1800s. During that time, medical training and knowledge was limited. Doctors were sparse in rural America, and people were easy picking for con men. Author Caroline Starr Rose builds her novel around Dr. Kingsbury, a fictional traveling doctor inspired by the real thing.
Kingsbury is a true showman, but he’s not the star of Miraculous. It’s Jack and Cora — and a number of supporting characters — that offer the real meat of the story.
Miraculous is told from alternating viewpoints that Rose weaves together to create an engrossing tapestry. With a dramatic twist, the threads come together, and readers are able to see the whole picture.
With sinister undertones throughout, Miraculous is a delightfully atmospheric read that should appeal to a large cross-section of readers.
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