Title: Calling for Angels
Author: Alex Smith
Publisher: Red Telephone Books
Published: November 2010
The cover on this is different - I didnt grasp the full meaning of the illustration until after the explanation in the book. Gemma, the main character doesn't believe in angels, until things start to go wrong in her life, and in desperation she asks for help. She finds a mini wooden carved statue in her pocket, which turns out to be a mini replica of her guardian angel, Kai...who has a similar mini carved statue, but of Gemma, which is very touching.
The storyline is really interesting, and most teens (and adults) will relate to both the characters, and the emotional storyline. I think Alex, who was 14 at the time of writing this, has breathed life into a lot of subjects very close to home for most teens, and in a short story too (150 pages)....subjects such as loneliness, fitting in, being yourself and school bullies and friendships are all covered, and are just as relevant to adults as to teens
Gemma views herself as invisible to most of her peers...her best friend at the start of the story, Caitlin, is not a loyal friend, and is everything Gemma prides herself on not being, so they are an unlikey mix. Caitlin is top of everything in her class, popular and also turns her back on her friend to be with the 'in' crowd. Alex also compassionately shows how a teenager can be old enough to know what goes on in the family, whilst being considered to young to do anything, and also touches on how shallow friendships made in school can be.
Kai is an interesting guardian angel, as his own story unfolds I came away with a sense of not really knowing Kai's history though, which is a shame. Kai comes to grow and realise what it is he must do to redeem himself. Zak is also interesting, and a character which Gemma mixes really well with. He adds another element to the story and impacts on Gemma's life.
Calling for Angels is an emotional rollercoaster in places, touching on grief and how families cope under stress. There are some laugh out loud funny bits, as well as places that made me cry, they were so real. For a debut, which was written when Alex was 14, I can see why this won The Red Telephone's 2009 novel competition.
"Em never believed in angels. That was until she met Zak and Kai….Em - shy, sensitive, with her head in the clouds - and Caitlyn - gorgeous, popular and talented - have been best friends forever, in a sleepy, nondescript town called Philiton.
But when new boy Zak moves into town, Philiton suddenly becomes a much more interesting place. With his meltingly hot looks, sense of humour and a smile that has even the hardest-hearted girls falling at his feet, Zak has the female population of Philiton Comprehensive School convinced he's an angel.
Caitlyn usually has the boys worshipping at her feet, so it’s a shock when Zak seems to be more interested in Em. Cracks appear, tensions arise, but surely Em and Caitlyn’s lifelong friendship can survive?
Em feels beset by demons. At home, she’s looking after her grandmother, who is slowly deteriorating, whilst despairing at her normally sensible brother, who is going off the rails just to fit in with the ‘right crowd’. Even Zak’s unexpected attention causes jealous girls to shower Em with spite – not least Caitlyn. If only she had a guardian angel…
Then a second boy steps into Em’s life. Dark and brooding, a captive to the secrets of a past he’d rather forget, Kai, who has appeared as if from nowhere and fallen head over heels in love with Em, is the exact opposite of Zak.
And although he may not seem like it, Kai is the real thing. He really is an angel"
Source - ebook from publisher for an honest review