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Advent for Authors: HOPE with The Edge of Over There

For December, I am reviving my book review blog posts with a four-part #AdventforAuthors book review series.

There are seasons for writing. Seasons for reading. And seasons for giving. I want to make December a season for giving back.

Advent, in Latin, means “Coming”. For some Christians, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas are used to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. Often, an evergreen wreath is used to symbolizes eternal life and four candles are lit leading up to Christmas to remind us of our struggle against darkness. The four candles have varying themes depending on your church background, but for the sake of my book reviews, I’ve selected four YA novels that inspire Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

This week's novel is The Edge of Over There by Shawn Smucker.

This novel is a continuation of the fantastical story based around the lives of Sam Chambers and Abra Miller started in The Day the Angels Fell (Read my review here). I read this story in quick succession after the first novel and then listened to it a second time on audiobook this past fall. I actually preferred reading this one over the narrated version.

What’s it About:

This story focuses on Abra’s life after her first encounter with the Tree of Life. Four years later, her friendship with Sam has grown distant, and her memories of the events from that night seem less and less believable. Then she encounters a woman on the road who reopens her curiosity and sends her on a quest to find and destroy the new Tree of Life. This tree, though, requires her to travel through a gate in a New Orleans Cemetery. A gate that takes her to the edge of Over There.

What did I think?

Quality of Writing (5/5): Shawn’s writing is deeply layered and enviable in his lyrical mastery. The real standout in this story was the world-building for "Over There". So vivid, and eerie, and intriguing in detail, I felt right there with Abra, and Leo and Ruby.

Turn Paging Effect (5/5): Shawn uses a unique blend of POVs and timelines that never leaves you bored. Just when you think you have the story figured out, he returns to a different POV and reveals key details that have been peppered along the path but were not quite visible until that moment.

Attributes of Hope (5/5): Although this story takes you through a cemetery crypt to a world of red skies, ravaged by friendzies, it also oozes with life and hope. Shawn furthers his theme from his first novel, “What if death is a gift?” in a way that offers tangible answers. Death is rarely tackled from such a hopeful angle and I love that Shawn takes on this question in a way that is relatable for all ages. We see through Abra and Leo’s journeys that death can be a gift, even when it takes you to scary and unbelievable places.

Although this may not be your go-to Christmas read, it is a story that shares important truths for any season on life.

I also posted this review on Goodreads. It was a goal for me to add at least a star review for every book I read. This month will help make bring me closer to that goal. I know a lot of authors out there who would be ecstatic if you did the same. Stay tuned for Week Two of my Advent for Authors with Stephanie Morrill's novel Within These Lines.


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