We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Jackson and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.
I am a fiction writer. I read fiction, I write fiction, this is NOT fiction. This is a gut wrenching retelling of the life a young mother had when she was faced with the difficulties in raising two boys, one of whom was struck down with cancer too early in life.
I am approaching my review the same way I do for everything I read, so it will be different than many others, just as a forewarning.
This book has three beginnings before it really takes off: the childhood of the young mother, the early years of her marriage, and then everything comes together with the birth of her children. From there, the story follows the mother through her troubles, crisis of faith, and into the aftermath of what she has handled and faced in her life. There is a definite feel of a story arch, and the overall flow is well executed.
There is world building, in that the framework around her life is quickly built up. This is what almost necessitates the three beginnings – after the first, each beginning should be a chance to start again and grow in beauty and freedom. Each one shows just what life can throw at you in stead. I enjoyed the way this was handled – from the view point of how the faith was either upheld or shaken. An interesting way of handling this.
The character development was outstanding. Many times, I have seen in even short memoir-style pieces this aspect of the story/writing left out, and so even though the ones involved in the story are real people, they are only paper cutouts in the writing. When Angels Fly takes the people as they are, and shows both their good and bad sides, along with their humanity. There is a very definite divide between those that are helping (and are subsequently shown in a very positive light) and those that are hindering (and thus shown in a very well deserved negative light) what is going on in this woman’s life.
Overall it is a very gripping piece that I’m still trying to figure out if I am glad I read, or if I am going to remain on the fence about reading. Especially since I had to wait several days for my initial reaction after finish to calm down. (WARNING: foul, foul language for me! You know I don’t cuss. I still think the man in the loveless marriage lying conceitful, son-of-a-bitch MF who needs to be taken out and hung by his privates while carved, eviscerated, while his F#$$%$ hands are crushed so the bastard cannot harm anyone else while his shit-eating tongue is torn out.) Normally I would give something that could elicit this strong of a reaction from me 4 or 5 stars. However, I cannot in good faith do that for this book because of some editing issues.
Even though this is written in a diary format, there are many times when the wrong words are used, the wrong tense is used, and even wrong spellings made it through to the final print. I do not believe this is the author’s fault, as this was published through a small press, rather I think this is the publisher’s fault for not catching them. Again, taken into consideration the style of writing, I could let some of this slide, but many of the issues are in the technical jargon, and can radically change the meaning of the section. (Though, at least the key pieces of medical information are never affected.)
Overall, this is a very gripping work, and I think it deserves at least 4 stars. However, because of the editing issues, I’m not sure if it qualifies. As such, the most I can honestly give it is 3 stars. Should something change down the line, I’ll be glad to come back and revisit to update. If you enjoy non-fiction, I think you’ll appreciate this one.