Fasting Phenom

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Eating is one of the keys to survival, and it’s an enjoyable one at that. In Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder, an eleven year old girl has unbelievably survived without eating for four months, causing people to wonder how that could possibly be.

Anna O’Donnell hasn’t eaten anything since her eleventh birthday, four months ago, and a local committee has formed to find out if this is some sort of hoax or if the girl is truly living off of manna from heaven as she claims. With round the clock surveillance of Anna, nurse Lib Wright and Sister Michael observe the girl to see if she’s covertly being fed by her family.  As Lib documents Anna’s vitals over her two week observance, she notices, with the aid of journalist William Byrne, that after the first six days, Anna’s health drastically declines, causing Lib to fear for the girl’s life and take action accordingly.

The narrative was enthralling and the writing was well crafted, with the mystery of how Anna has survived so long without food driving the reader to find out the truth. With not much happening in the way of plot, the story depends on intricate description of setting and character, which was thoroughly explored to create a small, well-developed world. I was a little disappointed in the happily ever after to conclude the story as it was both expected and a little too neat an ending, but it does fit with expectations of the Victorian tale being told.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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