Sunday, May 03, 2009

My Review: Entertaining Angels

It isn't often you start reading a book with absolutely no idea of what the book is about; without even a cover image to give you a feel for the book. Today, however, when I started Entertaining Angels, I truly had no clue. It was a plain-covered ARC, one of two books sent to me this week by Nancy Berland, the other being Don't Bargain with the Devil. A bookmark in the book showed a park scene, but was from another book by the same author, Judy Duarte. I wondered if it was a romance, chick-lit, or what. When I opened the book and saw a scripture quote, I wondered if it was Christian fiction. I'm still not sure what genre the book is, though I guess it would be considered inspirational fiction; but I know I enjoyed it.

Have you ever read the Joshua books by Joseph Girzone? This book reminds me of them. An apparently homeless man named Jesse interacts with all the main characters and while he doesn't do much more than listen, and then say a few things, those words become powerful agents of change in their lives. Who are the main characters? Well, there is Renee, a pregnant teen who begins the book by leaving her relative's home rather than aborting her baby. There is Kristen, a single mom who is raising her son alone, and taking care of her grandmother, who was disabled by a stroke she had the same night Renee snuck out, got drunk, and got pregnant. There is Craig, the new assistant minister at the community church. Originally he had hoped for a career in professional baseball but after a rotator cuff tear and making a bargain with God in prayer, he gave it up to follow in his grandfather's footsteps in the ministry. Daniel and Cassandra are members of the church. Since the home the church was to provide for Craig wasn't ready, he was staying at their house. Daniel is a successful attorney and they are well off financially, but Craig realizes that not all is right in the house. Shauna is their daughter. She just told them that she is engaged to a guy from a wealthy family, but she's not thrilled. Dawn and Joe are the couple who run the food kitchen at the church. They love each other, but their greatest sorrow is that they were never able to have a baby. Jesse enters each of their lives briefly and helps point them on the road to happiness. It is a sweet feel-good read and can either be taken only at that level or the reader can realize that much of the advice Jesse gives can be for all of us. Also, the book has a strong pro-life message so that's another factor in its favor. This is one I'd definitely recommend.

You may have noticed that I used the word "inspirational" rather than "Christian" to describe the book. While it is rather easy to see Jesse as a Jesus figure, he could just as well have been an angel, and really the book points more to him as an angel than as Christ. While God is mentioned a few times, and much of the story revolves around the church, we don't attend any services and I don't remember seeing Jesus' name in the book.

Thanks Carol Smith at Nancy Berland for the chance to read and review this book.
Check out Judy Duarte's website.

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