Angel by Laura Lee

Title: Angel
Author: Laura Lee
Series: N/A
Publisher: Itineris Press
Release Date: 9/27/2011
Length: 200 pages
Format: PDF Galley
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary
Challenges: 2012 E-book Challenge
Source: Author (thank you!)
Purchase: Paperback | Kindle | E-book
Rating: ★★★★★

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.

Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul’s ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.

I’ll admit I went into this only because I found the idea of a male minister falling in love with another man intriguing. I wanted to see how the author dealt with it. I didn’t let myself worry too much about expectations or anything like that. I have to say, it worked pretty well. The whole thing was a pleasant experience. It also kind of helped that I was corresponding with Laura while I was reading the book. You’ll get to see that chat a later.

Now, in case you’re thinking “uhhh… that book looks/sounds a little provacative,” let me assure you: it’s not. Well, I guess it sort of is, but it’s not some raumchy book about guys having sex. It’s thoughtful and intellectual. It’s much more about identity and love. The messages that I took from it really spoke to me and isn’t that something you want from a book? I love fun, light-hearted reads as much as the next person, but there’s just something about a book that really speaks to me. All the fun, easy books and exciting thrillers can never really measure up to them.

In Angel, Paul is dealing with a few things. The moment he sees Ian, his life turns upside down. Everything he thought he knew about himself is suddenly shifting. He soon finds himself in a plce that he never expected, in love with another man, and a much younger one. The book not only follows their relationship through its ups and downs, but, more importantly follows Paul’s journey to finding himself. Ian’s presence in his life forces him to take a look at what he believes and values. I also thought Laura Lee did a terrific job of writing their relationship. It really displayed love in all its beautiful imperfection. It wasn’t all butterflies and sunshine and happiness and I really appreciated that. There was jealousy and insecurity and arguments. Love is messy, but wonderful and this book really demonstrated that.

I loved Paul from the beginning. His faith is true and steadfast, but not fanatical. There are several theological discussions between him and Ian, and a lot of those really made me think. I think I’ve known people my whole life that look at things the way Paul does, but I’ve never heard anyone voice it quite like he does. It was nice to read something that has Christian undertones, but doesn’t force them down the reader’s throat. I understand Ian’s initial feelings about church. It’s easy to look at fanatics and be put off by all of it, but Paul approaches faith in such a way that really brings out the message of love and understanding, rather than ostracizing people.

I found Paul’s struggles with his church community sad, but very realistic. Unfortunately, the reaction of the his church to Paul’s relationship is more likely to happen than not, especially down here in the bible belt. At first, I was truly saddened by that part of the book. Once I began thinking about it, I realized how appropriate it was. People choose churches for different reasons and not everyone who goes to the same church believe exactly the same way. It can be really difficult to please everyone.

I highly recommend this book. It was beautiful and its depth really blew me away. A little later today I’ll be posting an interview with the author. You should check that out, as well. She had some very insightful things to say.

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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