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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review of Paper Angels by Billy Coffey

I encourage you to read this treasure!
by Billy Coffey
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: FaithWords; 1 edition (November 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446568236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446568234
     Genre:  Inspirational
     My Rating: 4.75 of 5.0
Book Description
Series: A Novel | Publication Date: November 9, 2011
Andy Sommerville seems no different than others in his rural Virginia community, but what sets him apart is that his best friend is an angel. The angel is God's answer to a childhood prayer Andy offered to a twinkling star that his deceased mother once called "the door to heaven." The first angelic proclamation instructs Andy to find the wooden keepsake box in his grandparents' attic. Over the years, he directs Andy to fill it with apparently meaningless objects from twelve people with who Andy randomly crosses paths.

Andy's world is turned upside down when a brutal attack leaves Andy burned and the boy he loved as a son dead. At this crucial juncture, the angel abandons him to loneliness and pain. All that remains is the wooden box Andy has always kept safe, and a new angel, who will use its contents to reveal truth to him as a result, he discovers the defining truth of his life, new hope in the community he loves, and greater trust in the God who sustains him.

The story is told from Andy's hospital bed, where he awakes feeling God has abandoned him. Without being preachy or saccharine, the author brings the small town to life and reveals a spiritual secret--the presence of angels--that helps a wounded man discover the defining truth of his life, place new hope in the community he loves, and trust totally in the God who sustains him. (2011)
Review:  This is a thought provoking story - not a quick or light read.
Andy Somerville is a man in his 50s who has lived alone for many years.  His parents died when he was a boy and he moved in with his grandparents. He prayed for help and an angel became his confident and friend who has been there for him through the years. Although he is blessed to have the angel, it has kept him from forming any truly close relationships so he wouldn’t have to explain his private friend.

Andy is in the hospital after he is burned during a brutal attack at his old fashioned gas station.  He is depressed at the death of a friend killed in the attack and he feels that God and his angel abandoned them at the most crucial time.  Andy is visited by a lovely ‘counselor’, Elizabeth, who is there to help him get over his grief and anger.

Andy has a special box of mementos that his angel told him to keep over the years. During the long night Elizabeth sits cutting paper. She cajoles and bullies Andy into sharing the story of the people and circumstances surrounding each item in the box. There is an important life lesson revealed with each memory. 

There are profound tidbits of wisdom throughout this wonderful book.
We’re all children. From the moment we’re born until the moment we die. We might learn how to talk, but we never quite learn what to say. And we learn how to walk, but we never stop stumbling. (Page 39, chapter 5.)
There are pine needles to remind him of one Christmas when he met a German man who hid a pickle in the town Christmas tree. The reason involves the magic and miracle of possibilities that abound at Christmas.

There is a letter that Andy wrote to a young man after he witnessed his girl friend breaking up with him. At the time Andy had no words to share. Later he wrote the letter to give encouragement, including the thought: “You don’t fall in love through the eyes, Alex. You fall in love through the heart.”

Andy has to overcome his anger to help another young man along in life. The endline message for Andy, and all of us, is that “You have all you need, and you need all you have.”

The writing has an easy flow but it doesn’t move quickly because you want to think about the messages. This story is a true gem. The story gives comfort for pain and loss, encouragement to help others and shows purpose even in an “ordinary” life - like mine. I plan to share this with my reading group friends but this book is a Keeper that I may want to peek at every so often. I encourage everyone to get this book for yourself or as a gift. Then I encourage you to not rush through it, but savor the wisdom.
I am very glad that I received this book for review from Faith Words, a division of Hachette.

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