Thursday, August 17, 2023

"The Wonder State"

Sara Flannery Murphy is the author of the novels The Possessions and Girl One. She grew up in Arkansas, studied library science in British Columbia, and received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Utah with her husband and their two sons.

Murphy applied the Page 69 Test to her newest novel, The Wonder State, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Wonder State, we see Iggy, the last piece of the puzzle, joining the friend group that forms the heart of the novel. Hilma and Max (the glamorous out-of-towners), Charlie (smart, ambitious), and Jay and Brandi (best friends but misfits) have already formed a group to search for mysterious houses in their Ozarks town. They’ve run into Iggy, the school quarterback, inside one of the houses they’re hunting. Jay worries that inviting Iggy into their quest will break the fragile bond the five of them created, but he’s more open to the concept of magic than the others expect.

It’s a page that shows a lot of character interactions – playful, arrogant Max making up a Latin term, and Charlie rolling his eyes; Hilma taking the lead in inviting Iggy into their group. The final sentence of this page even references the title, as Jay watches Iggy (her crush) learn the truth about the houses:
She saw the way he smiled, his pupils dilating, as if the wonder he felt were a physical change in the light.
The Wonder State is a dual timeline novel, and page 69 happens to fall in the 2000 timeline, when the characters are high school seniors. I love both timelines, but the earlier timeline has a lot of joy, irreverence, and adventure, so I’m happy to see it represented here. I also like that this page shows the circle closing, in a way. The final member of the six-person group has joined the mix, and this six-person configuration will influence both timelines in a huge way. This feels like a good depiction of what this novel is about – the bittersweet pull of nostalgia, complicated friendships, weird houses.
Visit Sara Flannery Murphy's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Possessions.

The Page 69 Test: The Possessions.

Q&A with Sara Flannery Murphy.

--Marshal Zeringue