The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

By Brady Udall

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Vintage Contemporaries, c2001, 2002

Genre: General fiction

ISBN: 9780375719189

Audience: Adult, young adult

Number of pages: 423

Setting: Various locations in Arizona, including San Carlos Reservation, Globe, and Fort Apache.  Also set in Richland, UT and Stony Run, PA.

Time period: Hard to decipher, but it seems like late 1960s to early 1970s.

Plot summary: “If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head” (p. 13).  Edgar Mint’s life is not an easy one.  After dying and being brought back to life, Edgar awakens from a coma utterly alone in the world.  His mother and grandmother, both believing he is dead, have disappeared.  Once well enough to leave the hospital, Edgar is sent to live at a BIA school where a distant ancient uncle works.  The trials Edgar endures here make the mail truck incident seem like a picnic.  In spite of this, Edgar not only perseveres, but manages to leave the school for an idyllic family setting in Utah, which ends up being not so idyllic.  What seems like it should be a tragically sad story is filled with humorous incidents, offbeat characters, and Edgar’s  persistent wish to find and forgive the man who almost killed him.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Moderate pace.

Characterization: The story is told in both first and third person through Edgar’s eyes.  While many of the characters have impacts upon Edgar’s life, the most important secondary character is Barry Pinkley, the man who brought Edgar back to life.

Frame: The title and opening scene set the frame for this book.  Edgar’s life is a miracle, which is not an easy thing to live with.

Story line: This is a wondrously funny story about a boy trying to make sense of the world and find his place within it.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Foster home care — Fiction.

Apache Indians — Fiction.

Boys — Fiction.

Orphans — Fiction.

Head — Wounds and injuries — Fiction.

Arizona — Fiction.

Picaresque literature.

Cele Peterson Arizona Collection.

(Not very) Similar works:

The True Account by Howard Frank Mosher

This is not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg

Personal notes: I loved this book.   What seemed like it should be a very sad story was mostly funny and utterly engrossing.  The ending surprised me a bit, but seemed wholly appropriate.

Other: Diversity: orphan, Native Americans – Apache, Pima, Havasupai, Ute – Mormons, alcoholics & drug addicts, Filipino woman

Brady Udall’s website

This book won the 2002 Spur Award: Best Novel of the West

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