Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

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Image by Kiran Raja Bahadur SRK via Flickr

Zoe lived in an average, middle-class family. Until a doctor diagnosed her younger sister, Abria, with autism. Her sister’s disability has put a huge strain on every member of the family. Abria needs a lot of care and attention. Zoe loves her sister, and often talks about being the child’s second mother, but also can’t stand her at times. She’s embarrased by her sister, and hates having to explain that her sister has autism. Hates the looks people give her when she and Abria go to the park.

But the family is not alone in this struggle any longer. Matthias, a guardian angel who has protected the innocents of the world for centuries, has come to help little Abria and her family cope with the stress.

Heavenly is a very character-driven book. The plot isn’t important: a normal teenage girl goes through normal teenage things. Her family experiences harder-than-average problems, but Zoe reacts in normal ways. The only big difference of course, is the Guardian angel, Matthias.

The plot doesn’t need to matter, though, since all the characters are wonderful. They’re easy to relate to exactly because they have real issues: Zoe drinks her problems away; her brother, Luke, huffs his problems away with pot; Zoes’ friend Britt is the typical pretty ditz; and Matthias is an intense and intensely compassionate guardian angel. And Abria…Abria is wonderful. Jennifer Laurens portrayed autism in a remarkable way: Abria is trapped in her own mind, frustrated by her inability to communicate ever the simplest things. Abria displays happiness by flapping her arms like a bird – she “fly’s” when she’s happy, which is such a beautiful metaphor.

The book does tend to get melodramatic, with Zoe mooning over Matthias…but it’s melodramatic in a teenage, puppy-dog love kind of way. A believable way. I can picture a high school girl obsessing over an intense guy…okay maybe I did it myself a few years ago. But that’s what makes this book so fun to read.

Overall, this book is very engaging, with likable characters and a huge, big-twist ending. Sorry, my lips are sealed. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.

Can’t wait to read the next book, Penetance.

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