Bibliophile | ‘Tiny Uncertain Miracles’ by Michelle Johnston

Tiny Uncertain Miracles
By Michelle Johnston

Fourth Estate

Marick tried to turn to God for answers when he lost his wife Diana and his precious daughter Claudia, but he could not find anything in the hymns and pulpit of the church where he assisted the Deacon. Across the road, Royal Perth Hospital needed a chaplain and he was given a windowless office in the basement and a pager.

As a non-denominational chaplain, he thought the job would be light on the religious side of things and consist mainly of providing companionship to the unwell. Instead, he found himself surrounded by disease, death and depressed medical staff with no time to care for themselves.

There was so much despair and death in the claustrophobic confines of the hospital. “The walls of the wards had deaths fossilised in them like rubble, deaths for which he worried he had negotiated no peace.”

When he meets an over-qualified microbiology lab assistant Hugo, who has a secret laboratory an unused laundry in the basement, Marick finds someone who seems as lost as he feels. When he looks through Hugo’s microscope, Marick sees what can only be specks of gold in the microbiotic stew Hugo uses for protein production.

Coming to religion later in life, Marick has more questions than answers and couldn’t work out if what he saw through the microscope was alchemy, evolution, a hoax or possibly a miracle. “A miracle is a miracle for sure, but then there are things that pretend to be miracles just to test us.”

With Christmas approaching, there seemed to be a shortage of miracles and the number of homeless people outside the hospital was increasing. Marick realises that he has been using the church as a place to hide, rather than coming to terms with what was missing in his life.

As Marick reflects on the bargain he made with God when his daughter was born, he spends time with an emergency doctor who is looking more and more worn out every time he sees her. This is something author Michelle Johnston knows all about as an emergency physician at Royal Perth Hospital.

Marick realises that he needs to restore some sort of faith in a place where it is not only the patients but also the staff who needed to offload the burden of their pain. While trying to solve the miracle of the gold, this thriller still grips the reader as matters of healing lives and hearts take precedence.

Lezly Herbert

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