Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Miles Between, by Mary E. Pearson

There are amazing coincidences in the world, days when everything goes completely right or, as Destiny Faraday puts it, "one fair day" to counter all of the terrible ones in life. And Destiny has plenty of things to deal with: being abandoned by her parents at the age of seven and shuttled from one private school to another, never visited, and afraid to grow attached to anyone because she will inevitably be sent away when things go bad. But on this magical day, a mysterious stranger accosts her in the school's garden while she is playing hooky and challenges her to make a wish for a perfect day. This is quickly followed by her stumbling across an abandoned car which she takes with the help of three of her fellow students. Before they know it, one piece of good luck will lead to another and another and another....

A bit more like her Adoration of Jenna Fox (in the sense of being a fantasy about children with rich parents) and less like the creepy and desolate Room on Lorelei Street (of which I was in a minority of critics), this is a very lighthearted and harmless story about a day when things go right. As a story about endless good luck, there is not a lot of suspense in this story (one or two big surprises though). Instead, the story is anchored in the premise that four kids getting to know each other on a very strange road trip is enough of a story to keep us hooked. For the most part, it really does work, although the twists of luck vary widely in believability and I was less credulous about some of the more bizarre turns that the story takes. It is decent escapism, but not as thought-provoking as her earlier works. There simply isn't that much profound to say about good things, except the way that they help us to understand the bad.

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