Awkward, hapless Marick is still struggling with the loss of his wife, his child and his faith when he is reluctantly thrust into the position of chaplain at a large public hospital. Shortly after arriving, he meets Hugo, a hospital scientist and a man almost as lost as Marick himself, who is working in a forgotten lab, deep in the subterranean realms of the hospital. Hugo is convinced that the bacteria he uses for protein production have - unbelievably - begun to produce gold. Is it alchemy, evolution, a hoax or even ... possibly ... a miracle?
In the meantime, Christmas is approaching, the number of homeless outside the hospital is increasing, the Director of Operational Services is pressing Marick about his weekly KPIs, you can't buy chocolate in the hospital shop anymore, and Marick keeps waking with nightmares at 4 am every night. If ever a miracle was needed, it's now.
A tender, sweet, sad, gritty, slyly funny and unexpectedly uplifting novel about family, friendship, faith, love - and alchemy - Tiny Uncertain Miracles is a hopeful and luminous gift to all readers.
Marick is unsure of his place in the world; he knew he wasn't quite suited to the church, but he's apprehensive that a new part-time job as a hospital chaplain has the answers he's searching for. What he finds there, however, is not what he expected. In the depths of the hospital, he meets a scientist experimenting on bacteria that, much to the surprise of both men, appears to produce gold. From the intimate to the all-encompassing, Tiny Uncertain Miracles authentically captures the hospital environment and the people found within-the franticness of the ICU, the quiet in the room as someone dies, even the labyrinth of the hospital itself. Doctor and author Michelle Johnston matches the sprawling nature of a hospital with a narrative just as intricate and tangled. Although the book is plot-driven, a significant proportion of the novel is spent analysing Marick's evolving relationship with faith and God. So much so that when the story deviates from this main thread or other characters are introduced, it feels somewhat disconnected. It's clear that the additional storylines are introduced to emphasise the interconnectedness of everything and everyone; however, at times the multitude of subplots detract from the main narrative. The strength of this novel lies in Johnston's connection to the medical world as an emergency physician. She manages to capture the brutal reality of life with a lyricism and gentleness that will touch many. Readers of Elizabeth Strout, Mitch Albom and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine will find similarities and enjoyment in Tiny Uncertain Miracles. Lisa Schuurman is an editor, writer and book reviewer.
Michelle Johnston is both an emergency physician and an author. On good days it is difficult to tell the difference. She is a Staff Specialist at the Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department, a busy inner-city trauma centre where she works as both clinician and teacher. Michelle's first novel, Dustfall, was published by UWA Publishing in February 2018 and shortlisted for the MUD Literary Prize for a debut novel in 2019. She speaks and holds workshops, for both doctors and normal people, about marrying critical care and creativity, and she is occupied searching for the beauty and awe in an often-brutal reality.
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