The Wonder of All Things
Stone Temple is a very small, ordinary place tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Nothing much happens in this town, with the exception of the yearly Fall Festival featuring a semi-famous, local flying stuntman who returns each year to delight the residents with his airborne acrobatics. This year, though, a stunt goes wrong, and the event ends in tragedy --- with a plane crash. Everyone’s lives are forever changed.
Ava, the daughter of the local sheriff, and her best friend, Wash, are found buried in a pile of rubble. Ava is alive, bruised but with no serious injuries. Wash, on the other hand, is hurt and bleeding profusely from a wound in his side. Intensely worried for Wash, Ava makes her way to him and heals his wound completely. Several days later, Ava comes to in the hospital. Unconscious for days and now very weak, she has no idea how much her life and the sleepy town of Stone Temple have changed. Now that word has gotten out about her healing powers, hoards come from everywhere to ask for her help. Ava, not unwilling but wholly unaware of how she managed the feat, wants nothing more than to go home and rest. However, the world wants --- and expects --- something more from her.
"I had the opportunity to read this book in one sitting, and while it’s certainly not the only way, I think it’s the best way to tackle it. The emotions build, and the tension and sadness that surround Ava and her family become very real."
A somewhat reluctant Ava agrees to attempt a healing for the doctors and scientists in town with the hope that she’ll be left in peace. While able to heal the animal test subject, she grows weaker and weaker each day. Her father, wanting so badly to help and to calm the situation, especially for Ava, becomes wrapped up with a TV minister who has brought his flock to Stone Temple. While Ava and her stepmother remain skeptical, her father truly wants to believe that what he’s doing is in the best interests of his family. When another disaster strikes the town, everyone comes looking for Ava to heal them, but she has even less to give.
Ava and Wash are sweet kids stuck in an unbelievable situation, but they handle it much better than the adults around them. While Ava’s father tries his best, outside forces get the better of him. Ava and her stepmother spend most days at odds, but the situation brings them together…or at least to some understanding. All the outsiders who have descended on Stone Temple want something from Ava --- to see her, to touch her, to be healed by her --- but all she wants to do is run away. You can’t blame her for that reaction. She seems to understand that, even if she were to help everyone, very little would come to her; even those who have her best interests at heart miss this point.
THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS is a book that creeps up on you emotionally. You can see what’s coming even when you don’t want to. It’s a revelation that the reader and Ava share. As you get further along, you want other characters to get to that place of understanding, and I’ll admit to being frustrated by many of them for this reason. It’s human nature, though, and Ava’s gift becomes a mirror that the residents of Stone Temple are forced to look into.
I had the opportunity to read this book in one sitting, and while it’s certainly not the only way, I think it’s the best way to tackle it. The emotions build, and the tension and sadness that surround Ava and her family become very real. That’s also the lovely part of THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS: When all seems lost, Ava shows how strong she truly is. All the emotional baggage is worth it.
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on October 3, 2014