Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description from Cover, highly modified:
When Ann Fletcher returns to Charleston to see her younger sister, Sarah, receive her master’s degree, she finds herself riding in the back of an ambulance, watching helplessly as Sarah fights for life.
When Sarah dies, Sarah's neighbors reach out to Ann. Ethan McKinney, who does construction on old Charleston houses, volunteers to help Ann get the Fletcher family home ready to sell. Her neighbor Tammy and her 12-year-old son Keith, who has Down Syndrome, are always there to lend a hand or present a hand-drawn picture of angels. Keith believes he can see and hear angels, and he says they're all around Ann.
Ann is drawn to their friendship, but she's determined to make a name for herself as a modern interior decorator in New York city. It might somehow make up for the loss of Sarah's great potential. Ann struggles with why God didn't save Sarah or give a break to the grandma who raised them, both of whom were Christians. God begins to get Ann's attention through her new friends and through clearly supernatural events. Will she come to believe that God's angels really do surround us?
Angel Song is an inspirational romance novel (with a Christian/non-Christian romantic attraction, though at least the guy really does keep his hands off and a distance between them when he realizes Ann doesn't share his faith). This novel will probably appeal to those who enjoyed the Touched By An Angel TV show.
The world-building was excellent, bringing the jobs and locations alive in my imagination. The pacing was very good, and the suspense was created by the question of how much Ann is willing to give up in her efforts to become a well-known interior decorator. However, after the initial set-up, the story became predictable which stole some of the tension.
The "good" characters were nice and interesting, but I never felt like I really got to know the "real them." They seemed more like a role with some surface facts attached. This was partly because Ann kept others at a distance, but, even with her, I couldn't understand why she reacted so strongly to her past. I kept thinking there had to be more, something that reinforced how she dealt with her feelings of abandonment.
The symbolism with the house worked well for me until the end, where it got heavy-handed. I felt like the symbolism was forcing her actions. They didn't make sense considering everything that had led up to that point, and I found that distracting.
Ann didn't believe in God or the supernatural. She figured that if Christians still suffered pain and tragic accidents, that was proof God didn't exist because you'd think God would at least help those who worshiped him. But Sarah and her neighbors were Christians, so there were a few prayers and church attendance. The main supernatural events were troubled dreams, hearing divine music others couldn't, and seeing angels. The main spiritual topic was how God uses angels to help humans. Jesus was only mentioned once, and never to Ann. Though Ann did come to believe in angels and the existence of God, that's all that happened...but everyone treated her like she'd become a Christian.
There was no bad language or explicit sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as enjoyable, clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
Red and blue lights spun off broken glass and twisted metal, shooting cold barbs through the warm South Carolina night. Ann Fletcher sat on the curb, hugging her knees to her chest. How could this have happened? She closed her eyes, trying to regain some sense of equilibrium, but that only intensified the stench of hot rubber and engine fluid. She gave up and opened her eyes.
The mulitcolored strobes highlighted the scene around her. She glanced at a policeman in black barking orders into a walkie-talkie. Nearby, a fireman in yellow turnouts sprayed water over a gurney. She was staying out of the way, as she'd promised the EMS team. If sitting here would keep their attention fully on Sarah, then that's what she would do.
"Here, I'm thinking you could use this." A woman in a black pantsuit held out a bottle of water, which Ann reached for gratefully.
"Thanks." She took a long drink, and then another, surprised by how thirsty she was.
"Is there anything else I can do to help you?" The woman's hair shone like copper in the flashing lights, and her face looked vaguely familiar, like someone Ann knew a long time ago. "Anything at all?"
Ann simply shook her head and looked toward the medics. "There's nothing."