by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated by Y. Maudet

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 180 pages

Over a five-year journey, a young boy and the woman who pulled him from a train wreck, travel through the collapsing Soviet Union on their way back to France. This story for young audiences is written against the backdrop of human tragedy, yet it sincerely maintains that people are good when they are given the chance. Young Blaise Fortune narrates his own life, giving his desperate adventures an intimate feel and some dangerous situations naïve and miraculous overtones.

A Time of Miracles offers society in crisis, but from the optimistic perspective of a smart and dedicated boy. The author carefully balances the greater political crisis against everyday events like learning how to sing or including a travelling stranger in a makeshift meal, and the gratitude these acts can bring to one’s self and to others. Adults reading this story might wonder why Blaise’s guardian is so intent on getting him back home to Paris, or why she regularly tells the story of that terrible train wreck as if from a script. This story succeeds because one can appreciate its simple and honest sincerity.

Reviewed by Bryan Burch