Book Review: ‘Miracles’: A Novel of the Unbelievable

Miracles can actually test rather than confirm faith

Book Review: ‘Miracles’: A Novel of the Unbelievable
"Miracles" by John Coleman asks people to find answers for the unasnwerable. (Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)
Anita L. Sherman

In John Coleman’s “Miracles,” his protagonist, Jaime Halasz, is a young, ambitious reporter with a newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia. She is, by nature, skeptical and would not consider herself a person of faith. She is more likely an agnostic, or a nonbeliever.

Her gathering of the facts in this story requires much more than a notepad, a pen, and her phone recorder. What she’s seeing and hearing causes her to continually question what is real and what isn’t. She’s dealing with happenings that are beyond belief. She searches for clear-cut answers and easy explanations of what she is witnessing firsthand.

She considers herself a strong journalist, but her confidence is shaken when things start happening that she can’t explain, easily talk about, or attempt to write logically about to share with readers.

A River Runs Red

The happenings start with seemingly natural phenomena: bright, dazzling lights flashing in the night sky akin to the aurora borealis and then the Chattahoochee River turns red.

People are awestruck, dumbfounded and thrown into confusion desperately seeking answers. The media is set spinning trying to find those answers; some logical, scientific reason surely can be found. The experts are brought in to help calm the chaos and shed light on what is occurring. The entire city is a witness and soon the world is drawn to these strange events happening in Atlanta, Georgia.

But these freaks of nature are only the beginning to a series of even more startling events: A man walks on water to save a drowning boy; a young girl comes out of a coma; a food shelter's meager supplies multiply to feed a long line of homeless; sick children are healed at a local hospital; a blind woman sees.

Halasz is on to perhaps the breakthrough story of her career. The world is watching. The "miracle man" is an unassuming construction worker named Jairo Morales. His healings are divinely inspired but also seemingly random. Some are touched by these miracles, others are not.

As the reporter dives deeper into the story, she inadvertently becomes part of the story she is reporting. She gains access to his whereabouts and spends time with Morales and his closest followers. She begins to question her own professional credibility as her objectivity becomes blurred.  Ironically, as she sees others getting healed, her best friend is dying.
 Author John Coleman latest book is "Miracles." He or his works have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Christianity Today, and Forbes, to name a few publications. (Amazon)
Author John Coleman latest book is "Miracles." He or his works have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Christianity Today, and Forbes, to name a few publications. (Amazon)

How the World Responds

Coleman’s writing style and descriptions are very contemporary. This is a fictional story about miracles that could be happening today. He introduces a variety of characters throughout the chapters from Halasz’s work colleagues to homeless shelter staff and occupants to her gaggle of friends.

Some of the more tender conversations are between Jaime and her mother as she works through the cacophony of what’s happening with the story and where it is taking her on her path in life.

In his research, Coleman drew inspiration from other nonfiction works such as Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural,” Eric Metaxas’s “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How they Can Change Your Life,” and the works of American theologian Craig S. Keener.

For his narrative, Coleman makes the case that, just as in Jesus’s time, people’s reactions would run the gamut from fear and skepticism to faith and affirmation when confronted with a miracle.

The myriad reactions in response to a supernatural event are at the crux of this story. What would it take to believe? With his protagonist, Coleman approaches it from a viewpoint of secular disbelief. At the same time, he poses the question of whether miracles should compel Christians to question or cause discomfort in their belief.

Coleman creates a lot of tensions with his characters, both inside and out of the Christian community. Miracles test the waters. It’s an easier narrative to explain away miracles and take away the spiritual dimension than to believe that signs and wonders can happen beyond the material world.

For Coleman, exploring the range of people’s reactions to an otherworldly event is a fascinating topic. He uses his fictional characters in a compelling way. Their responses mirror what, I would suspect, you would hear from work colleagues, friends, family or your local pastor.  There is a clear disconnect from what we claim to believe and what happens to that belief system when confronted directly with a supernatural, divinely inspired event.

Coleman does believe in miracles and wants to encourage readers to be open to the variety of miracles that take place on a daily basis: not just obvious physical healings but inner healings as well.

How does it all end? What happens to the "miracle man"? What happens to the skeptical reporter? What would it take for the world to believe?

The book does not have a purely happy ending, but it is a remarkably hopeful oneperhaps a reaffirmation of faith and the power of prayer, and the gift of a profound perspective.
 John Coleman's book that explores how believers and nonbelievers alike deal with miracles.
John Coleman's book that explores how believers and nonbelievers alike deal with miracles.
‘Miracles’ By John Coleman Trouvaille Press, Jan. 20, 2023 Paperback: 247 pages
Anita L. Sherman is an award-winning journalist who has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for local papers and regional publications in Virginia. She now works as a freelance writer and is working on her first novel. She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to four, and she resides in Warrenton, Va. She can be reached at [email protected]