Rating:

Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

At the age of seven, half-Apache Edgar Mint had his head run over by the mailman’s truck. If it had not been for Barry Pinkley, a doctor at the hospital where Edgar was rushed off to, Edgar’s story may have ended there. Barry was able to resuscitate Edgar, which was just the first of many striking events in Edgar’s fascinating life.

Edgar is taken away from his mother because she is an alcoholic and unfit to care for him; he is forced to grow up quickly and defend himself at a school infested with delinquents. Things seem to improve for Edgar when he is taken in by a Mormon family, but they are not what they might seem on the outside. All of Edgar’s experiences shape him into an unforgettable character who must endure more sadness and heartache than any literary character I have encountered in recent years.

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is Brady Udall’s first novel, though I became familiar with him through The Lonely Polygamist (2010). Udall is adept at crafting characters who are normal, yet become unforgettable to the reader because of extraordinary happenings in their lives. Edgar begins as a sweet kid who will gain readers’ sympathy because of the way his mother treats him. When he is taken from her and put into the school, Edgar becomes harder and edgier simply to survive. Barry also returns into Edgar’s life, wanting to take him away from the school and give him a good life. Though Barry means well, I think most readers will agree that something is not quite right about Barry.

Edgar seemingly finds a place to call home with the LDS family who takes him in, but he encounters jealousy with one of the other kids, a sexual awakening with one of the girls, and the uncomfortable presence of a deceased child from that same family. My hope for Edgar was that once he became of age he could go out on his own and live his own life; any time that anyone tried to interfere (even with good intentions), something always went wrong for him.

I had no idea how The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint could possibly end, but I was not sure that I could handle any more sadness. The conclusion broke my heart just a little more, but Edgar seems just fine with where he ends his own personal tale. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is book that will appeal most to enthusiasts of literary fiction in the vein of John Irving, Charles Dickens, Ian McEwan, just to name a few.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Also by Brady Udall: The Lonely Polygamist

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W. W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.