CALLING FOR ANGELS
Paranormal Young Adult
The Red Telephone
Received from publicist for review
As is par for the course, Em's life is becoming decidedly more complicated as she gets older. Her best friend Caitlyn is pulling away from her, her parents are often fighting, and her grandmother has fallen ill. On her way home from school one day, a strange woman pulls her into a van and tells her to choose a wooden figurine to determine the guardian angel she receives. Thoroughly confused and a little disturbed, Em leaves the van with the trinket in tow.
She finds herself thinking about the the little figure of a boy and innocently wishes he could be real. Moments after she makes her wish, Kai is standing before her explaining how the two of them have been divinely paired together.
Kai isn't the only new male arrival into her life however, as new student Zak seems to have taken an interest in Em much to Caitlyn and the other popular girls' dismay. Em begins to struggle with her feelings for Zak and the increasing tension in her home life, all the while trying to figure out Kai's purpose and what it means for her and those she loves.
Calling For Angels is a cute story, one that highlights universal experiences with love and loss, and one that is written with a surprising maturity given the young age of its author. Ms. Smith clearly has an extraordinary capacity for storytelling, and she exposes us to characters that have us wishing for more time with them than we are granted in this short young adult debut. Though the story and love triangle scenario are not overly unique, they are written in a way that oozes potential and promises an author who has a future in writing characters inevitably capable of complex interactions and engaging emotional conflicts.
Though this story is an intriguing start for Ms. Smith, there is a sense of incompleteness running rampant as we read. A number of events take place, yet when we reflect back upon conclusion, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what we'll be taking away with us when we close the back cover and begin something new. There are several engaging plot threads touched upon, but our exposure to them is brief and fleeting as we are quickly lead somewhere else before we feel ready to go. The fizzling friendship between Em and Caitlyn plays out superficially despite its potential to be an element that succeeds in securing our emotional attachment, relationships like it being a part of growing up that so many of us experience, yet it remains on the periphery–alluded to but not fully explored. We have a similar reaction to a storyline focusing on Em's grandmother and her illness, and just when we think this may be the reason Em is granted Kai as a guardian angel, the references to her grandmother become increasingly sparse, tucked away behind Em's blossoming relationship with Zak. We in fact never truly learn much about Kai though we often see things through his point of view, leaving our connection with him, Em, and the overall story just shy of whole.
Typically, when a book divides point of view between the two main protagonists we get a deeper, more substantial experience, one that provides us with more information than if our journey flowed through just one character alone. While Kai's perspective is interesting, it doesn't always seem necessary as he remains a complete mystery to us, and the viewpoint switches between him and Em so rapidly at times it's as though we're reading a screenplay instead of a novel. Sometimes only a sentence or two will stream from either Em or Kai before we're transferred back to the thoughts of the other, leaving the story a bit disjointed as we struggle to keep pace with our young guardian angel and his ward.
Overall, Calling For Angels is a sweet story despite it's flaws, and is one that will likely appeal to much younger readers who enjoy just a touch of romance as they imagine what it might be like to have their own angel shadow.