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YA Book Review- The Day the Angels Fell, Shawn Smucker

Book Review : The Day The Angels Fell

It has been a while since I’ve posted a book review, and that has nothing to do with my lack of reading. In fact, I could (should) provide a whole pile of reviews but have not placed it high enough on my priority list. If you want more, please let me know and I will place it higher on my to-do's.

You know when you find a book that is not on any best-seller lists, but reads like it should be? You feel like you have a treasure that needs to be shared. When I read The Day the Angels Fell, by Shawn Smucker, I found a big honkin' jewel. So I needed to share. Enjoy the review.

What is it about?

This is the story of Sam Chambers and his journey to understand the loss of loved ones, both as a young boy and an aged man. Sam first narrates as an old man, grieving the death of a best friend, and then he recounts the summer his mom died during a lightning strike. Both stories circle back to an ancient oak tree on his family’s property- a tree steeped with story and legend, a tree that leads to an even greater mystery. The idea that a Tree of Life could bring his mother back drives him and his best friend, Abra to encounter curious strangers, travel to dark places and face haunting questions.

What did I think?

Here is my quick and dirty review:

Quality of Writing: 5/5

  • You know when you read a book and it becomes a movie playing out before you? Or when you keep re-reading a line, because it just oozes off the page, like melted chocolate? Okay, maybe that’s just me, but this is Shawn’s writing. It’s poetic and deep in the way that makes you want to post it in an Instagram quote every other page.

Turn-Paging Effect: 5/5

  • I loved how the two plots interwove within this novel. It kept me up way past my bedtime to reach the end of each section, only to enter into the other time frame, and get sucked in further. Each chapter left you with questions, or a need to seek resolution. The addition of fantastical elements left you wondering what new evil or heavenly being might show up next.

Attributes of Hope: 5/5

  • Sean takes themes of good and evil, light and darkness and rests them gently on imagery from biblical stories that span from Genesis to Revelations. Never is there a preachy quality or an overt message, but there is a true struggle to understand an eternal hope. The question of whether death can, in fact, be a gift centers on this knowledge.

This novel is readable for anyone from 10 to 100. It has darker sections that may be frightening to a younger reader, but at the same time could guide them through a grieving process not unlike Sam’s own. It is a very quick read that I will be recommending to those who are fans of Madeleine L’Engle and C.S. Lewis.

How did I hear about this book?

I recently attended a writer’s conference in Grand Rapids Michigan and had the joy of meeting Shawn in person. He was part of a panel of authors during an evening event and also lead a workshop on going “deep” in your writing. It was not until I arrived back at my hotel room that I connected his topic with his a genuine gift for writing deep descriptions, themes and even sentence constructions.

One of the best YA novels I have read in a long time! Highly recommended. Tell me what I should read next?

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