Sally’s Rating: 2/5
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen tells the tale of a young girl who finds the little miracles in nature as she experiences country life at Maple Hill for the first time.
This sentimental Newbery Medal winner was overrun by sappy plot lines and sugary characters. Every chapter involves a “miracle” happening in nature as Marly learns the ropes of making syrup in a sugar camp. Her wide-eyed innocence allows her to view the world through awestruck eyes as she makes new friends, saves baby animals, and tries to get along with her war-stressed father.
Marly is the main reason this book is getting such a mediocre rating from me. While I enjoyed that the heroine had flaws, she was insufferable to read about in regards to her naivety about the world around her. While she was very good at reading people, she seemed ignorant of the way the world worked and her belief in the smallest of miracles was a bit unbelievable to me. Constantly on the verge of tears, her mission to save every single small animal in the world was a bit over the top as well. At a couple of points, she can’t bear to let some baby mice and a den of foxes die despite her family’s logical reasons for it. Too many of Marly’s tears and breakdowns made for a weak main character who never really grows up.
I enjoyed some of the more subtle character interactions between Marly and the secondary characters. Her father’s struggle with readjusting after the war is constantly in the background, informing every conversation and action he is involved with. Additionally, Marly’s sibling rivalry with her older brother Joe, brings up some jealousy over the gender roles of the time period. Her desire to be able to do the same things Joe can do is very relatable and a driving force in her motivations.
The other characters of Chris, Chrissie and Harry were essentially stereotypes out of a Hallmark movie special. Always with a wise word, their philosophy on life is impressed on Marly and Joe. Their idealized views on life were eye roll worthy at best and just indulged in Marly’s childlike fantasies.
Miracles on Maple Hill was an okay read, but the main character dragged the book down a notch. If you have any level of cynicism at all, I would not advise reading this book. I would only recommend this to people who are looking for a feel good book at Christmastime or have an arbitrary interest in how syrup is made in New England. Otherwise, leave it be and find another book that has more bite and less saccharine sweetness.