Beneath Angels Wings, E. Summers
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: YA, LGBT (G)
Length: 219 pages
Purchase At: amazon.com
Please note: Beneath Angel’s Wings does deal with a suicidal character as well as physical and emotional bullying. If this is likely to distress you please do not read this review and take this into consideration before reading the book.
“Spring sunshine glinted off the brand new razorblade suspended above the inside of Adam’s wrist.”
Adam Beasley is at the lowest point of his 17 years; sitting in a forest preserve, alone with nature, aiming to cut into his wrist with a razor blade stolen from home. He has been driven here by relentless bullying at school, as well as him knowing deep down that neither his parents, nor God, will accept that he is gay. With a suicide note tucked in his top pocket Adam begins to ready himself, until he is interrupted by a booming voice.
“Hey! Stop! What are you doing?”
The voice belongs to a young man by the name of Angel. For reasons unbeknownst to Adam, Angel takes him under his wing and does what Adam’s parents should have in stopping the bullying. Angel protects Adam, and makes sure he gets between home and school every day safely. When Angel came across Adam in that forest preserve he saw a desperate young man, and gives him what he truly needs: a friend.
The lives of these two young men become more complex and intertwined as the months roll on, with each becoming an integral part of the other’s life.
Why I Loved This Winged Book:
Late in the story Adam sees Angel in a doorway, and this is exactly how I see this book:
“For a moment, backlit by the living room lights, his one-time savior really did look like an angel, or at the very least a superhero.”
Beneath Angel’s Wings has come into my reading annals in the same manner. In terms of coming out, and the transition to adulthood for a LGBT teen, this book has surpassed all others I have read.
Tackling Depression & Suicide
As evidenced by the opening sentence at the beginning of the review, Beneath Angel’s Wings does go into the head of a suicidal teen – in the form of Adam. Adam is lonely in the world, with a cold (at best) family, no friends, and only bullies to look forward to at school. In addition, he does not believe that anyone will be accepting of his sexuality.
The picture painted above is all too common in this world for LGBT teens and, unfortunately, they are more likely to commit suicide then their straight counterparts. The depression that foments within Adam’s mind is absolutely terrifying, with him all but wanting to end his life as soon as possible; the only delaying factor being that he doesn’t want his mother being the one to find him.
In the end, the only thing that turns his suicidal tendencies around is his chance meeting with Angel, giving him a chance to have a friend who he can talk to. In doing so, he can finally defeat the malice that has grown inside his head. I applaud the author for a wonderfully presented book, in which this issue is dealt with in a mature, insightful and caring manner. Hopefully this story will remind everyone to look at those around them and recognise when someone is feeling sad or depressed. Only by helping others can we make sure that their flames are not extinguished before their time.
Beautiful & Realistic Coming of Age Story
Readers of my previous reviews will notice how I love worlds being portrayed realistically, with character actions being logical and justified. Beneath Angel’s Wings is a proponent of this for the entirety of the book. Everything from the geography of Chicago, to the back-story of each character, is well thought out and beautifully presented.
The story conveyed in the book truly is a wonderful tale, with many highs and many lows, but at no point do you question whether it could happen. Adam, Angel, Javier, Keenan, and even Mr. and Mrs. G are memorable characters. To me, it feels as if they exist, and in my mind this story could be playing out on the streets of Chicago at this very moment.
You Can Be Religious, It’s Okay
Another thing I am very positive about in this book, and in other books, is when characters can maintain their spirituality at the same time as accepting their sexuality. The vast majority of characters in the story come from a Catholic background, attend church every Sunday, and believe in the moral code of ‘love thy neighbour.’
It is excellent to see religion as a way in which each character finds a connection, and for it to co-exist (at least for some) with LGBT sexuality. The negative effects that come from religious people, who are strongly against the existence of LGBT characters, is also felt. Angel sums up the nature of ‘sin’ for a gay man, in what was a key moment in Adam’s life:
“So you think God made you gay to what, test you? That’s dumb, and God isn’t dumb. And even if he is, what’s so bad if you fail that test? People fail all the time. That’s what makes us human. Look at all the unmarried people out there having sex, or married people cheating. The world is full of sinners. Why is your sin, any worse than theirs?”
Why it Lost Half a Star:
Beneath Angel’s Wings was nearly a perfect book for me; in the end I really struggled with the decision to mark it down half a star. However I did so because of two factors that have been niggling in the back of my head since finishing.
The titular character of Beneath Angel’s Wings sometimes feels just too perfect. By far the worst action he undertakes in the book is not noticing that Adam is attracted to him. For long periods of the story Angel is the guru of all knowledge, the moral compass, and the best friend of everybody. I did like him as a character, but this part of his character – that he did not have much in way of flaws – means that I do not love him.
Each chapter in this book is told from either the perspective of Adam or Angel. The frequency and duration of time you spend with each character changes as the story continues; this, in itself, was not something I had a problem with. What I did have a problem with, however, was that, during the transitions between characters, it felt like the previous scene of a movie was being repeated from a slightly different angle.
Having the other character’s perspective on the interactions between Adam and Angel, while sometimes conveying new information, was, for the most part, repetitive. Luckily these recaps did not take too long, and only caused slight jitters in the flow of the story. This wasn’t a deal breaker, but more of a minor annoyance.
Beneath Angel’s Wings deals with teen suicide, the struggles of coming out and a young man’s transition to adulthood in a superb 219 pages; it leaves this reader desperate for further tales with these characters. I absolutely adored this book, and I give it my full endorsement as a must read for everyone aged 15 and over. I congratulate the author on their first foray into the world of YA LGBT books, and truly hope that there is more in the future.
“In that moment, he had no doubt that they would always be there for each other, like the best friends and brothers they had grown to be.”
The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.