I accepted an ARC of Rick Fishman’s The Navajo Event for review. Being an ARC, it hasn’t had it’s final edit yet (including the cover). But this is the version I have.
Miracle or Myth?
A young couple is caught in an apartment fire and their only means of escape is leaping out a second-story window. The husband does not survive. The woman, Carli, undergoes surgery for severe burn wounds and a broken spine. But when a medicine man performs a Navajo healing ceremony, Carli’s skin miraculously becomes healthy again. And even more surprising, her spinal hardware has vanished!
Worldwide debate ensues and even the pope weighs in. Is it a miracle? Or a monstrous hoax to get rich and cover up the murder of her husband?
I think The Navajo Event had an interesting premise. It reminded me a bit of Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles, in that the focus of the book isn’t so much the miraculous event, or even the question was it or wasn’t it a miracle, but on the fallout from the event on normal peoples’ lives. The book doesn’t quite have the nuance of Miles’ book, nor the emotional impact. But it probably has more heart.
You actually feel this in one of my biggest complaints about the book. The POV character isn’t the recipient of the miracle. It isn’t Carli—and she is little more than a cardboard cut out of a kind daughter, honestly. It’s her dad. The male head of household who seems to be the only person in the book with any true agency or depth. His daughter is a 26-year-old widow and her dentist is still calling him about her records. The doctors talk to him about her medical condition. He sits in the investigative meetings. He is who everyone calls at every stage of the book. Not his wife, never Carli herself, only the father. Why? I really felt this was a failing in the narrative. But at the same time, you could also feel the love he had for his daughter.
I also really appreciate that the book brings together Jewish, Catholic and Navajo traditions and lets them coexist peacefully. And does so without ever calling attention to itself for doing it.
The writing itself is pedestrian, but certainly readable. My edition was an ARC, but I still felt like it was pretty well edited. I feel like this book will find an audience that appreciates its off the wall antics and brief foray into the metaphysical. But I also think that there will be others who find the events too slapstick and slapdash to countenance. And the only real way to know where you fall on that spectrum is to read it and find out.