When Nathan Gray, a young boy and town outcast, sees a drunken man fall and bash his head, he's worried the drunk has died. Then, miraculously, the man's head wound heals and he gets up and leaves. It's then Nathan notices the stain on the sidewalk looks like the Virgin Mary.
When news of the splotch and it's miraculous healing powers hits the national airwaves, pilgrims flow into the town. The townspeople decide to capitalize on their newfound wealth and turn the sidewalk stain into a roadside attraction. Amazingly, the splotch does seem to cure some people. Nathan, who's befriended the town's religious leaders, is a believer, but his mother, a nurse, is skeptical.
Meanwhile, Nathan has adventures with his invisible dog Chewy and naively inserts himself into the middle of a corruption scandal that leads to murder.
I loved An Imperfect Miracle. Told from Nathan's point of view, this story was charming, funny, and a bit scary at times. The way Nathan took things at face value, yet questioned everything felt very kid-like to me. It was delightful to dwell in his head for the duration.
Also the premise of the story is both hilarious and a comment on society and religion. Add to that the emotional depth (Nathan had an abusive father and is now coping with his mother's new relationship) and it becomes a brilliant story. I'll be looking for more work from this talented author.
Nathan Gray has trouble making friends, his alcoholic father ran out on him, his mother is preoccupied with work and finding a new husband and his dog Chewy has just died. So perhaps it's not surprising that Nate comes to believe that his beloved Chewy has returned from the dead to once again be his best friend. His mother is alarmed, but the therapist predicts that Nate will grow out of his habit of "seeing things" once he comes to grips with his emotional traumas.
But then, on his way to school, Nate stumbles upon what he can only describe as a miracle - a man seemingly healed of a fatal head wound by a smudge on an old, dingy concrete wall. Nate might be on to something that can't be attributed to his imagination, as many in his small industrial Pennsylvania town, quickly ascribe spiritual significance to the smudge, and healing powers too.
Some of the town's leading citizens decide to capitalize on the sudden influx of tourists by turning the smudge into a shrine and charging admission. Not everybody is on board with the notion that the miraculous has somehow intruded into their mundane routine, and Nathan soon finds himself at the center of a raging controversy. AN IMPERFECT MIRACLE is a moving piece of literary fiction dealing with love, loss and one boy's attempts to find substance and clarity in a chaotic world.