‘Hey,’ Father John heard one of the voices call again. He looked up. It was the brown-haired girl. ‘Ain’t you gonna come up? We could do somethin.’
In this sequel to Union Square, it is 1964 Baltimore, where Fr. John Martin has been haunted by those two questions every day for a dozen years. His god-brother, Jezriel Heath, walks all over the city in service of his faith, trying to make sense of the contemplative visions that have begun to visit him. John’s eight-year-old cousin Marnie, whose Catholic world is “too wonderful, too exciting,” is the champion of her best friend, Alice, who clings to Marnie as safety against her own hidden sorrows and traumas.
In this supernaturally charged world, Miraculous Medal looks within each character to reveal “the most important thing,” a world where faith is molded by violence and contentment, ignorance and compassion, blind cynicism and equally blind confidence. All four navigate in their adult or childish ways the temptations of suffering and salvation, and each faces a reckoning that accompanies that temptation.
Like Union Square, Miraculous Medal is a novel as rich in humor as it is unflinching in its telling of calamity and loss. It carries the reader to a moment in urban America and Catholic culture on the threshold of radical change, a community unfolding inside a tattered but still-miraculous parochial world.