Magazine Novel of the Year: Wonder When You'll Miss
Me won the Elle Magazine Reader's Choice Award for 2003.
Award Winner: Wonder When You'll Miss Me received
the award, given by the American Library Association (ALA) for books
published for adults that are absolutely guaranteed to appeal to
teenage readers, April, 2004.
From the Critics
"Amanda Davis writes prose that is precise, elegant and strong, and she tells a story that is at once harrowing and, strangely, filled with adventure."
Michael Chabon, author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY
"This is a marvelous modern-girl odyssey, dark and comic and poignant and smart, that shows off Davis' wonderful prose and the freshness and wisdom of her wild storytelling."
Susan Orlean, author of THE ORCHID THIEF
"Amanda Davis has a wicked and inspired imagination, and her her first novel,Wonder When You'll Miss Me, is just plain fabulous. This is a story full of extraordinary events told with extraordinary skill."
Brady Udall, author of THE MIRACLE LIFE OF EDGAR MINT
"An utterly unique take on what it means to run away and join a circus. Filled with a marvelous array of characters, this is the story of recovery from trauma, and the triumph in finally integrating the soul and the self."
Elizabeth Strout, author of AMY AND ISABELLE
"I couldn't put it down...I LOVED it. I don't like anything, either. It's brilliant, sad, funny, amazing, original and a complete and utter page turner."
Kate Christensen, author of JEREMY THRANE and IN THE DRINK
"This book is a circus Pygmalion a spectacular tale of injury, heartbreak, and metamorphosis. Our young heroine our fair lady exists in a strange chrysalis of her own invention, until she is ready to wake from her dreams and her nightmares. Amanda Davis's prose is gorgeous and lucid, and the pace of her story-telling is one of ever-increasing emotional velocity, causing the reader to fall in love with her characters, and with her book."
Jonathan Ames, author of THE EXTRA MAN
"After three years working for the circus, I swore I'd never return, but with Wonder When You'll Miss Me, Davis spun me back to the bigtop, the midway, and the backlot, and I found, at the end of this rich and satisfying novel, that I did not want to leave."
Michelle Chalfoun, author of ROUSTABOUT and THE WIDTH OF THE SEA
"With a whirl of images, plunges of despair and leaps of hope, this book is the best sort of literary amusement park ride a carrousel for the senses, and a roller coaster ride for the heart."
Judy Budnitz, author of IF I TOLD YOU ONCE and FLYING LEAP
"I loved Wonder When Youll Miss Methe voice is so engaging and heartbreaking and true that I simply took hold of the reins of story and held on. This is such a good book."
Susan Richards Shreve, author of PLUM & JAGGERS
Elle's Novel of the Year Reader's Choice Award!
" Not since Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones last year has
a book won our monthly prize as handily as did this debut coming-of-age
her novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me, Amanda Davis, like
a trapeze gymnast, knows how to dazzle her audience with a literary
act that disobeys the rules of gravity and leaves us, heart in throat,
wishing it would never end."
more here: http://www.januarymagazine.com/fiction/wonderwhen.html
fantastically compelling novel... Davis' exploration of the torturous,
disciplined normality of high school is disturbingly perfect, and
her evocation of the world of the circus is inspired... perfection."
novel is one of unlikely triumph, a coming-of-age story with twists
a shade darker than the average adolescent's, replete with romance
and danger, life lessons, and a completely satisfying conclusion...
In this debut novel, Davis has made the modern psychological
odyssey into a thrilling adventure."
to read something a little less rock show, a little more Big Top?
The story follows 16-year-old Faith Duckle, who runs away from a
brutal high school to join the circus. Davis (who recently passed
away in a plane crash) ran away with the circus herself while writing
the book, and the research shines through in details of life where
the trapeze rules.
"Feeling invisible is only one problem for 16-year-old Faith Duckle, the engaging protagonist of Davis's auspicious debut novel (an expansion of her short story "Faith, or Tips for the Successful Young Lady" from her critically acclaimed short story collection, Circling the Drain). The ironically named Faith is also running from a brutal assault that led to a suicide attempt and a stay in rehab, where she shed 48 pounds but not her despair. When she returns to school, nobody seems to notice, except her imaginary "fat girl" alter ego who reminds her, "There are all kinds of anger.... Some kinds are just more useful than others," and convinces her to exact bloody vengeance on the boy who was a key participant in the violence. Fleeing the aftermath of her angry attack, she joins the small traveling Fartlesworth Circus, where she cleans up after elephants and horses and gradually detaches herself from the haunting fat girl who delights in dogging her every move. Her new identity, Annabelle Cabinet, revels in the spangled sawdust world of performing acrobats, animals, clowns and freaks, and begins to heal. Davis revitalizes the moth-eaten circus motif with her tensely lyrical prose and full-bodied characterizations. Faith/Annabelle's gradual path to happiness among the "misfits" of the big top leads her, and readers, on a fast-paced, well-documented (Davis actually toured with a circus in 1999) adventure toward self-acceptance. While some readers may be dissatisfied with an ambiguous ending that eschews a sentimental resolution to Faith's metamorphosis, Davis remains true to her character's emerging independence, confidence and faith in the future."
"Heartbreaking if not flawless novel debut by Davis (stories: Circling The Drain, 1999) about a severely traumatized girl struggling to recover her sanity and self-esteem. From time immemorial, little boys have dreamed of running off to join the circusand it stands to reason that little girls must have similar fantasies. At 15, Faith Duckle may not have been a girl, and at nearly 200 pounds she certainly wasnt little. But she certainly was innocent, and totally unable to manage the shock of being gang-raped by a group of high school hooligans under the bleachers during the annual Homecoming game. Some months after her assault, Faith took an overdose of tranquillizers and nearly killed herself. She then spent almost a year in Berrybrook, a mental institution where she slowly put her life back togetherand lost 60 pounds. She then went back to school but found that the ordinary routines of teenaged life were now too juvenile for her. One of her few friends was Charlie, who was dating a member of the Fartlesworth Circus, which was just then passing through town. Charlie introduced Faith to his friends in the sideshow, who forged a kind of misfits bond with her and allowed her to join them as they toured the hinterlands of the Deep South. Accompanied everywhere by the Fat Girl (the ghost of Faiths former self), Faith cautiously allowed herself to become a part of this initially alien but eventually quite welcoming world, and worked her way up the ranks from grounds crew to trapeze artist. And once she found herself secure in her new life and new world, she began to make plans for getting back at the people who nearly destroyed her years before. The story rambles somewhat and takes time tocohere, but then it manages to express the unutterable anguish of a child cast into an adult world of hatreds and cruelties that ought to be fatal but walk away intact. "
stunning first novel expands a short story from her collection Circling
the Drain (1999). Lonely for her dead father, an outcast at
her high school, Faith Duckle has only one confidant: the Fat girl,
a grotesquely distorted version of Faith as she was before a brutal
sexual assault drove her to attempt suicide. The Fat Girl follows
Faith everywhere, consoling her, counseling her, and relentlessly
urging her to exact vengeance on the popular boys who hurt her.
Faith gives in and attacks one of them after school, and then she
and the Fat Girl run away to join the circus. Davis is expert at
rendering the small cruelties of life in Faiths bleak hometown,
juxtaposing them with the frayed grandeur and scrappy glamour of
the circus, where she eventually comes to terms with herself. This
is an astonishing debut: dark, disturbing, and fiercely openhearted.
has created a lucid, compelling page-turner that defies categorization.
This is a stunning novel and Faith's story is uncomfortably tragic,
brutally honest and beautifully rendered. It is about pain and rebirth
and the reality behind all illusions. Wonder When You'll Miss
Me is, quite simply, a great novel.
more here: http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/0688167810.asp
new novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis showcases
the journey of a young girl who finds healing and transformation
through the circus.
more here: http://mostlyfiction.com/contemp/davis_a.htm
Spring 2003 Breakout Books selection.