Heavenly (Volume 1)
By Jennifer Laurens
Genre: Young Adult
Published June 2009, Grove Creek Publishing
Paperback, 280 pages
I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.I found the opening chapter of this book to be very strange, but intriguing, and I understood that it was meant be an extended teaser of something that happens later in the book. I liked that the author used this to hook the reader in, but the drawback is that I was looking for where the opening chapter fits in for the rest of the book.
Very quickly into the book, I felt an emotional connection with the main character, Zoe. The responsibilities of having an autistic sister have really drained her in many ways, and left her with this hole that she was either looking to fill or ignore. At the same time, when she was at home, she assumed the role of the "second mother" with an unselfish pride that showed a maturity beyond her age of seventeen.
On the flip side, her brother Luke is the opposite of Zoe in many ways in that he does not seem to share the responsibilities of caring for their sister, Abria, but instead is often seen running out the door. But like Abria, he also seeks to fill the void that the demands of his life have pulled out of him in different, but just as self-destructive, ways as Zoe.
Abria, the austistic younger sibling, is quite a fascinating character to read about, as I felt like I could extract the meaning behind her varied antics better than her family could. For instance, she has a habit of climbing anything she can get on, but it's the guardian angel Matthias who must point out to Zoe that Abria climbs because she like high places. The permanence of her innocence puts her in a state of joy that Zoe can only envy.
It was not until the end of the book that I fully understood the slogan attached to the Heavenly series: "Real Angels Don't Fall." The character of Matthias is just as unique and interesting as Abria, and the details put into both of them had me flying through this book in a matter of days. Matthias holds to the principles of his role as a guardian angel with both humor and intensity, and the number of times he side-stepped Zoe's questions even while answering others became quite frustrating. I would love for the story to switch viewpoints just so I could understand more of what Matthias was thinking and what motivated him.
I had expected this book to be mostly focused on romance, but I would say that the romantic aspects are only part of the story. Both Abria and Luke are vital to the plotline, and the ending was different than what I was predicting by a mile. I shed a few tears at the end, but there was still a sweetness that put a smile on my face. I can't wait to get my hands on the next one in the series, Penitence (Volume 2).
The Cover: I like how to cover hints at the angelic role that Mathias plays without giving the reader a full view of his person. That way I can make him look how I want in my head.
First Line: "I opened my eyes and found myself in a dark room."
There's nothing particularly unique about this first line. Sometimes you have to read a little further to find something juicy.
Favorite Quote: "Whenever you're around her she's calm. She's more aware. It's like you carry a frequency she can tune into."
Read For: Off The Shelf Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*