Published: August 15th 2009
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Details: Paperback, 296 pages
My Rating: 4/5
About Zoe whose life changes the day she meets the guardian angel of her autistic sister. This is a story about a family in shambles, interwoven with an epic love story. Great read, with a surprising end that will make you want to read the sequel Penitence right away.
A few chapters in:
I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. It has received great praise throughout the blogosphere, and the core of the story is paranormal romance. Needless to say, I’m intrigued!
Now only a few chapters in, and I’m already feeling the magnetic pull. I have a feeling this is one of those “read-in-one-sitting” books.
This is the story about 18-year old Zoe. She has a sister, Abria, who is a 5-year-old girl with autism. This is not easy to live with, and has put a strain on the whole family. They all deal with the burden differently. Zoe’s brother is loosing himself in a haze of weed clouds and Zoe hides her stress in alcohol, parties and boys. Even though I’m only a few chapters in, it’s painful to watch this poor family going downhill, slowly loosing control of their lives and burdened with guilt for not being able to take care of their daughter/sister.
Things are about to change though, and it happens the day Zoe is out frantically searching for Abria, who has, as usual, sprinted off in one of her escape attempts. Suddenly a boy appears with Abria in his hand. Eyeing him suspiciously, Zoe takes Abria from him, thanking him for finding her. Not long after, he appears again, bringing back Abria from another attempted run-away, making Zoe start to seriously question the strangeness of it all.
And this is as far as I’ve got, but like I said, it’s pulling me in as I’m writing this. Now gotta go back to reading!
After finishing the book:
Ok, so just finished it. I admit I didn’t read it one sitting like I expected to, but close enough. So what did I think?
Well after having read an endless stream of glowing reviews, my bar was set exceptionally high. I was expecting nothing less than a mind-blowing rollercoaster WOW-sort of book. Was it all that?
No, it wasn’t. Yet, it was a great read, and a great start to a series. I’m jumping on the sequel as we speak, which is always a good sign.
As for the plot, as hinted earlier, this is the story about Zoe and her family, all dealing with the autistic Abria in various ways. Pretty early on in the book, Zoe meets Matthias, the guardian angel of Abria, and immediately finds herself drawn to him.
From there you would think an epic love story is about to be formed. And yes, there is romance, but I would say the core of this book is Zoe’s family and the issues they are trying to work through. During large sections of the book, Matthias is completely absent, and instead we are dealing with Zoe’s and her brother’s addictions, an indirect result of their parents never-ending focus on Abria.
At first I was surprised that the family played such a forefront in this book, all their frustrations, faults, love and affection for each other displayed on the pages. It felt like having a front row into a real family’s most private sphere. I read somewhere that Laurens had personal experience with an autistic child, and that you can tell. I doubt anyone without the experience would have been able to portray the complexity of emotions you would feel towards an autistic child. This book really gives you a window into how that would feel like, and it’s heart-breaking to watch.
Zoe is barely keeping her head above water when she meets Matthias, and he changes her in many ways, basically making her a better person. Which shows, in her actions towards her family, and her changing relationship with her best friend Britt.
Matthias himself is as divine as angels go, and sorry for saying this but a teeny-weeny boring. Radiating warmth, reassurance, calmness, beauty and absolutely perfect. No wonder Zoe falls in love with him. As for me, I’m hoping for at least one flaw, as to make him a bit more interesting.
As the story moves on, there appears to be some heavenly rules to follow. But here we are kept in the dark, as Matthias consistently evades any of those important questions. That frustrated me a bit. I wanted at least a few answers, and I don’t like it when too much is hanging in the air. And what about Chase? I still haven’t figured out the role he will play. I assume and hope he will show up in the sequel.
The end. Well that really threw me. You’ll understand when you get there. And is it only me, but I had a tiny lingering feeling that Matthias’s intentions may not have been all that good towards the end. If you’ve read it you might know what I’m talking about? Or am I just imagining this, because after all he is an angel! Unable to have anything but good intentions, right? Yet, it was all a bit too convenient, wasn’t it?
The bottom line:
To cut it short, the ending definitely left me confused, hence why I’m now throwing myself over Penitence!