The Story of Michelle Johnston is a joyful read at the end of the year

It doesn’t take long before we learn that Hugo is also trying to come to terms with a humiliating past and escape from a different version of himself. The friendship between the two men prevails the whole time. Marick’s antidote is Hugo. You cannot deny the palpable and necessary bond they share, especially when it seems so difficult for men to form genuine and sweet relationships as they approach early age.


Johnston has written a charming, light-hearted story about a man trying to find himself again while rehabilitating a hospital and its people. Her characterization is vivid and nimble – I could almost taste Marick’s essence, smell him. It is rendered so explicitly and yet so poetically. The writing is sharp, clever and delicate.

This is also a working novel, one of my favorite genres. Not only do we see Marick hone his interpersonal skills, we also see him “give himself permission to be a practical man.” The multifaceted politics of hospital life is a complex web that Johnston unravels with overwhelming skill.

The gold found under the microscope is not only a powerful metaphor for the magic of a new, late friendship, but also for the importance of seeing miracles when they lie in front of you. Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective.


Johnston deftly weaves in the central question. Here’s a story about a man who questions his faith. what is god A concept? A being that is above all physical components? The Etheric Manifestation of Faith? Combined human spirituality? All of it? none of this?

Johnston leaves it up to us to decide. She injects the right amount of playfulness and depth into her characters, making for a joyful and moving read – just what we need at the end of the year.

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from book editor Jason Steger. Get it delivered every Friday. The Story of Michelle Johnston is a joyful read at the end of the year

Jaclyn Diaz

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