Thursday, December 16, 2010
Review: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
Title: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing (Aug 2009)
Hardcover: 294 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Author for Review
Rating: 5 Stars
SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads): I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.
MY THOUGHTS: Heavenly was a true delight to read! Very authentic. I would categorize Heavenly as realistic fiction with hints of the paranormal. The struggles that come with raising a child with autism is highlighted in this book. There is an incredible depth to this story, whose solid foundation comes from the fact that Laurens has a lot of personal experience with raising a child with autism. What I loved about this book was that it’s more than just a paranormal romance between Zoe and Matthias, who is the guardian angel of Zoe’s autistic sister Abria. There is much more substance to the book. It zooms deep into heart of the family’s issues revolving around Abria’s autism. The characteristics of autism, the details of what goes on inside this autistic household, the effects of autism on this family, as well as how individual family members unfortunately cope in negative ways (Zoe: partying/drinking and her brother Luke: drugs/pot), are all shown with such pure honesty and realism that you can’t help but be disheartened by what is going on. Especially how non-autistic children get unintentionally overlooked, since the autistic child requires so much care and attention. This story will definitely tug at your emotions. But on a brighter side, this story shows you the inspiring resilience of the human spirit when faced with difficulties and also teaches you that there is always room for personal growth - no matter how small. The family clings to hope and faith that they can eventually mend their broken family.
I also enjoyed the romantic aspect of the story. Aside from partying and drinking, spending time with Matthias is another escape from Zoe’s stressful life at home. So to her, being with Matthias is that much more heavenly when they are together. Their relationship develops organically in a very realistic way and over time. I loved how Matthias’ inner qualities - his intelligence and philosophical nature, being caring and protective - are qualities that Zoe is attracted to more than just his dreamy physical appearance, and this is the strong basis for them bonding so well. Their chemistry is easily visible. Heavenly establishes Zoe and Matthias’ love, but questions such as “Can they even be together?” and “What will the consequences be?” are some things that keep your interest as you are reading the story. As expected with many paranormal romances, there are obstacles to face in Heavenly as well. Who said loving a guardian angel was easy! The ending was a complete surprise, I didn’t see it coming. I am curious and excited about where the story will go from here. I will definitely be continuing the series to find out how the story unfolds. Penitence is book two and Absolution is the final book in the Heavenly series.
Honestly, there was hardly anything that I disliked about Heavenly, but if I had to nit-pick, Zoe reprimands her brother Luke for how he deals with his family issues, when she was coping in a negative way as well. But this just shows that she loves her brother and doesn’t want him to ruin his life, even if she is dealing with things in a bad way.
Heavenly is more of a slower paced book, which was fine because I was interested in what I was reading and it allowed me to really digest the information. I think what made me attached to Heavenly was the fact that I have autistic cousins, so I was able to really relate to this book. It was nice knowing that my aunt and uncle and I (when I visit) have witnessed and experienced the same kinds of issues that Abria’s family experiences in Heavenly. And it reaffirms that we are not alone in having to deal with the struggles that autism places on a family. I highly recommend this book, not only to people who are dealing with autism in their family, but to others who want to learn more about it. And for those who crave paranormal romances, while you may find this one to be a little more subtle and innocent, it is definitely more profound than many paranormal romances I have read, making it one to not be forgotten.
Posted by Elise at 12/16/2010