Most helpful positive review
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2011
This new book by Gregg Herren is aimed at the young adult market and not unexpectedly contains the sentiments one might associate with TV's once popular After School Specials. Writing for a PG 13 audience today can be tricky given the fare available on premier cable channels. The high school junior's in Sleeping Angel, some of whom have been intimate since eighth grade, speak a sanitized English that few young people do among themselves. Only one "f-bomb" is dropped and that is italicized. While the author uses appropriate cultural references --- iPods and Lady Gaga -- the highschoolers never convince you they're using their own voices.
The novel is interesting for other, more important reasons. Eric Matthews, a youth with amnesia in the wake of a car accident, is suspected of the murder of the former friend found shot to death in the backseat. As he slowly regains his memory in the subsequent weeks he is surprised to learn that the person he had been was quite different from the one he assumed he was. Why was he even in the car with the victim, Sean, who was clearly gay and had been constantly bullied at school. The fact that the large cast of adult and teenage characters are evenly divided between gay friendlies and homophobes makes two things clear: We have come a long way as a nation, and we have a long way yet to go.
Most important, I think, for the book's audience is the point that bullies rarely see themselves as such. They may be seeking peer approval, covering insecurities, or simply trying to win a cheap laugh at someone else's expensive. They aren't empathetically aware of the hurt they inflict or the cruelty of their words and actions.
Mr. Herren is noted for his New Orleans mystery series, so I anticipated a real puzzler, but from the villain's first appearance there was little room for surprise. There is also a sub-plot involving mind reading, which was unnecessary to the story and went nowhere. I assume it was added to capitalize on the recent popularity of paranormal themes with young readers.
Bottom line: If it makes just a few bullies take a look at their own behavior and see it for it is the book could be a life saver.