We've been featuring Shannon Dittemore and her latest book, Broken Wings, second in the Angel Eyes trilogy. I introduced the book on Monday, and gave my overall review yesterday.
I wasn't quite finished though.
Being a Christian novel, there is another layer to consider when reviewing or discussing a book like Broken Wings. There are the spiritual underpinnings of a CBA book to explore.
Faith can be applied as one layer of a multi-layered story. It may be more of a base layer, the foundation of what happens, but not as apparent on the surface. This would be a book where a character is a Christian, but overt aspects of faith aren't featured in the story. Or it may be a novel written with the idea of a Christian worldview without explicit statements or actions of Christianity. I wouldn't say these are any less of a Christian novel, but the story has another purpose. It isn't dealing with the specifics of faith and belief.
Other novels are Christian from specific content. Whether it is set in a church community, a crisis of faith, or a conversion story, the author wants to explore themes and ideas of faith and religion. The layer of faith is close to the surface, easily discernible.
Since Broken Wings deals with angels and demons, it is not the former.
It is a criticism if a book forces the faith aspect when it isn't natural to the story. It comes across as preachy. Thankfully, Shannon has created an organic exploration of faith, fear, and living for worship in her series. Brielle is on a journey of faith, and throughout she has ups and downs. She can see into the spiritual realm, what Shannon terms "the Celestial." It is the crux of the plot.
It doesn't become a gimmick. The spiritual life is a beautiful thing in Broken Wings. By ascribing colors to emotions and spiritual aspects of life, it allows for imaginative descriptions of what happens in the unseen realm. Worship shows colors dancing in ribbons and waves that captivate Brielle. More than having "angel eyes," she can sense the spiritual. She can smell worship. Rich scents accompany worship. Hearing the angelic worship draws her and calls to her. Brielle may not be a singer, but as a dancer she expresses her feelings in movement, and this is a precious depiction of a way of worship that is not always appreciated in church today.
The descriptions are rich and varied, but the themes resonate with power. I don't want to spoil things, so I won't explain each one, but one theme is sacrifice. As the little cherub Pearla notes toward the end:
"It's the greatest expression of love, she knows, to lay one's life down. But she wonders if humans know just how unique the ability is to do that. Death is not something an angel has to offer her loved ones. How glorious it must be to have one's days numbered by the Father.
How precious it makes each and every one." (page 259, emphasis mine)What a statement to consider. Wow.
In short, Broken Wings is exactly the type of Christian YA fiction I would want my daughter to read. Now, she's only four, but I will be saving these for her.
That's all I have for this tour, but there are other great people talking about this book - just go to Becky Miller's page to find other posts. And remember how precious each day is.