Tiny Uncertain Miracles

Michelle Johnston

Tiny Uncertain Miracles
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
31 January 2024

Tiny Uncertain Miracles

Michelle Johnston

Awkward, hapless Marick is still struggling with the loss of his wife, his child and his faith when he is reluctantly thrust into the position of chaplain at a large public hospital. Shortly after arriving, he meets Hugo, a hospital scientist and a man almost as lost as Marick himself, who is working in a forgotten lab, deep in the subterranean realms of the hospital. Hugo is convinced that the bacteria he uses for protein production have - unbelievably - begun to produce gold. Is it alchemy, evolution, a hoax or even ... possibly ... a miracle?

In the meantime, Christmas is approaching, the number of homeless outside the hospital is increasing, the Director of Operational Services is pressing Marick about his weekly KPIs, you can't buy chocolate in the hospital shop anymore, and Marick keeps waking with nightmares at 4 am every night. If ever a miracle was needed, it's now.

A tender, sweet, sad, gritty, slyly funny and unexpectedly uplifting novel about family, friendship, faith, love - and alchemy - Tiny Uncertain Miracles is a hopeful and luminous gift to all readers.


Michelle Johnston is an emergency physician and an author, whose author profile online ends with the line: ‘she is occupied searching for the beauty and awe in an often-brutal reality.’ Her new novel, Tiny Uncertain Miracles, indeed seems to be a product of that search.

Our protagonist, Marick, came to God late in life hoping to find answers. Marick lives in exile from his former life as a husband and father after a catastrophic health event involving his daughter Claudia, which is blamed solely on Marick’s perceived neglect of her care.

Despite pulling himself together after his inconceivable loss and beginning a new life, his attempts at the pulpit are deemed unsuccessful by his Deacon, and Marick finds himself in the role of Hospital Chaplain in the hospital across the road from his former church. Deep underground in the building, Marick meets Hugo, a scientist who believes he has miraculously found a way to get bacteria to produce gold. Alongside Hugo, we also meet a deeply original and believable cast of characters, each with their own tales of love, grief, loss and most remarkably, hope.

Johnston has delivered a compelling and skilfully constructed novel full to brimming with families, friendship, the intricacies of flawed human behaviour and the frailty of the human body. It will make you smile while breaking your heart. Johnston’s years of expertise as an emergency physician is evident not only in her realistic portrayal of scientific and medical procedures, but also her keen observation of the ways in which people behave on what can be the worst or best day of their lives. Fans of Hilde Hinton’s A Solitary Walk on the Moon and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will find a home in their hearts for Tiny Uncertain Miracles.

Tye Cattanach is a schools and libraries specialist at Readings

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