Have you ever been reading a book that you thought was a stand alone title only to realize as you get closer and closer to the ending that there is no possible way all the storylines will be wrapped up and that it must be the first in a new series? This is exactly what happened to me when reading The Orphanage of Miracles* by Amy Neftzger. I wasn't looking to start a new series, especially a middle-grade one with only one book published currently. These days I have enough series that I'm trying to keep up with and many of them I have been reading for years. I've gotten frustrated with waiting for new books so now if a series sounds interesting I will wait until there are several books out so I can read them one after another. There are so many books to read that a series can easily be forgotten or pushed aside if another book is not released quickly enough. I must make sure this does not happen with The Orchard of Hope**, the second title from Amy Neftzger, which continues the story of Kelsey and her companions.
The Orphanage of Miracles is an extraordinarily entertaining fantasy story which contains great wisdom. I think adults can get as much out of this story as the intended middle school audience. Kelsey joins with unusual companions on her quest to find a miracle while Nicholas and his friends live in an orphanage where miracles are housed. Their stories are told in alternating chapters for most of the book until the two storylines converge as at least some of the issues are resolved. The ending of the book provides some answers while offering many more questions to be dealt with in a future story.
I loved the whimsical characters who were so much more than they appeared to be on the surface. The conversations were often confused but with great understanding underneath. Neftzger plays perfectly with questions of great meaning and the image of authority which cannot be questioned.
The only aspect of this book that I struggled with was the two storylines being told in alternating chapters. I think this is something of a personal issue though as I seem to struggle to find my reading rhythm with any book that is written in this format. It seems that one chapter is barely long enough to get into the story of one character and then the story shifts quickly back to the other. However if multiple chapters are given to one story and then the other, it is easy to lose track of where a character is and what has happened up to that point.
Although I wasn't looking to begin another series when I received The Orphanage of Miracles from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program I am looking forward to reading more adventures of Kelsey and Nicholas.
* Amazon Affiliate Link
** Amazon Affiliate Link for preorder (anticipated release date is June 2014)