The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Book Review, Grown Up Books
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. This novel is about a young girl who miraculously doesn't eat but continues to live. A good book to read for book club.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. This novel is about a young girl who miraculously doesn't eat but continues to live. A good book to read for book club.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Age range: adult | Hardcover: 304 pages | Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (September 20, 2016)


About the Book

Named a Notable Book of 2016 by the Washington Post, one of Kirkus Reviews’ “Best 100 Fiction Books of 2016,” and one of Fresh Air’s Maureen Corrigan’s 10 Best Books of 2016

*The latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room*

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle—a girl said to have survived without food for months—soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.


Find the Book

Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository | Kobo | Book of the Month


My Thoughts on The Wonder

This is a fascinating book, made even more interesting by its background in fact. While The Wonder is a work of fiction, history has produced several “fasting girls” similar to the one in the story.

It starts off with a rigid, uptight nurse being hired to watch a young girl who claims she doesn’t eat. Anna, the fasting girl, claims God asked her to stop eating. Lib, the unbelieving and disenchanted nurse, naturally thinks the whole thing a sham and is certain she’ll catch the girl sneaking food within a day or two.

She doesn’t.

I was afraid the book would be boring. You’re reading about someone watching someone else not eating. Day after day of sitting in the same room, watching, and not eating. However, the book is far from boring. The characters have depth and history to them. I loved seeing the connection between Anna and Lib grow each day as they drew closer together.

I’ll admit, I found Lib’s resentment toward religion tiresome. However, her journey is about more than just catching a liar. Lib changes dramatically in the two weeks she spends with Anna. I think that’s the true beauty of this story — the worldly woman who gave up on her faith learns to hope in something greater than herself while saving someone else who gravely misinterpreted their own doctrines.

I have very mixed feelings about the way this story is told. I loved it and hated it in equal measure. My neighbor also read the book and she had mixed feelings about it as well. It would make a good book to read for book club, so you have other people to discuss it with.

Content: child abuse/starvation and alluding to sexual abuse of a child.

Source: I got The Wonder with my Book of the Month membership.


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  • Reply
    March 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

    This sounds like a tough read, tbh. A lot of issues buried in the story.

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      March 9, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Yes, that’s a good way to put it – tough. I liked the story itself, but I wasn’t crazy about all the extra “issues” that were going on in it. The main character was too modern to be truly believable. But the writing was engaging and it was easy to get sucked into the story.

  • Reply
    Aj @ Read All The Things!
    March 9, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Great review! I was hesitant about this book at first because you’re right, it does sound boring. I’m interested in the real-life history behind it, though. I’m now on a waiting list for the book. Hopefully I’ll get to read it soon.

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      March 10, 2017 at 11:53 am

      I think the history behind it is fascinating, too. I would love to learn more about the stories that inspired the book. I hope you enjoy reading it!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2017 at 12:46 am

    Now this sounds like something really different to most things I have heard of. Donaghue sounds like she always takes the most interesting concepts to write about. And even though you would imagine they would be boring, she does something so right that it doesn’t happen that way. I am so reading this one because I’m curious now :3

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      March 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      I hope you like it! I still have mixed feeling about it and can’t decide what to think. Ha ha.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2017 at 5:10 am

    I loved Room, this sounds really interesting but disturbing! Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      March 12, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Many parts were disturbing, it’s true. There were so many times I wanted to grab one character or another and yell, “Get it together! Your judgment is clouded!”

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
    March 12, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Hmmm … I’m definitely intrigued by this, though I wonder if I would have the same mixed feelings that you do. I often find books that deal with religion difficult—they can either become too preachy or they can have a very negative viewpoint of religion that I find off-putting. It’s hard to find that balance.

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      March 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

      It was a very negative viewpoint, which was the reason for my mixed feelings. Religion plays a dangerous role in the story, which can and does happen in real life. However, I am tired of religious people always being put in the “nutjob” category.

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