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It's a Wonderful Death Hardcover – October 6, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Fun, funny, and full of life." —Kirkus

"Schmitt's smart, funny novel will keep readers entertained as they follow R.J. on her redemptive path from 'self-absorbed princess' to someone more capable of kindness, while perhaps contemplating their own actions and choices. R.J.'s sarcastic sense of humor sharply counterbalances touching moments as she learns how to live more generously." —Publishers Weekly

"Told in RJ’s snarky voice, this delightful debut encompasses elements of A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay (2009), while still being unique. . . . The message of standing up to opposition—whether for yourself or for others—is an important life lesson that readers learn alongside RJ. Her story compellingly demonstrates that significance comes from the quality (not quantity) of one’s life." —Booklist

"Full of snark and morality, RJ is a teen girl that many readers will relate to and enjoy getting to know. It is a story of the ultimate takedown of a popular mean girl, but it is then incredibly encouraging. Readers will love RJ’s sarcasm and will laugh out loud at some of the depictions of the afterworld. (Who knew Death Himself would be kind of cute?) A book that could have easily become preachy gives just the right amount of redemption. Even though most readers will be dissatisfied with the ending, it is a great addition to any library serving teens." —VOYA

"A snarky joyride of a book with a deep moral core; long after you've finished laughing, you'll still be thinking about RJ's journey and perhaps asking yourself: What defines a life well lived?" —Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall trilogy

"A great mix of mirth, myth and metaphysics." —Daniel Waters, author of Generation Dead

"Just the kind of story I love—full of snark, heart, and contemplation about the meaning of life! It's a Wonderful Death will get you thinking about what you want to leave behind and how you want to live until then." —Kristen Lippert-Martin, author of Tabula Rasa

"A wonderful gem. Both snarky and uplifting, it sneaks inside you and makes you smile and cry at the same time." —Sarah Beth Durst, author of Vessel and Drink, Slay, Love

"Smart, sassy, and humorously original with clever world-building and a host of interesting characters, It's a Wonderful Death will have you laughing out loud and rooting for RJ from the first page!" —Amalie Howard, best-selling author of Bloodspell and Alpha Goddess

"RJ's witty narrative had me both laughing out loud and weeping into the pages. It's a Wonderful Death is a delightful read that questions the butterfly effect of choices made...and unmade." —Danielle L. Jensen, author of Stolen Songbird

“You know a story’s going to be good when Death shows up as a surfer! I loved every bit of this funny and heartwarming tale of second chances.” —Lisa Maxwell, author of Sweet Unrest

"For everyone who’s wished for a do-over, for the chance to take back a mean word or an unkind deed, you’ll be rooting for sassy RJ to succeed in this satisfying tale of redemption." —Yvonne Ventresca, award-winning author of Pandemic

About the Author

Sarah Schmitt has bachelor's degrees in political science and psychology as well as a master's degree in higher education administration, but she has always loved writing fiction. She is a K-8 school librarian part-time and youth service professional for teens at her public library. Sarah currently lives with her husband and two kidlets near Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sky Pony Press (October 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 163450173X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1634501736
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I definitely wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading It's A Wonderful Death, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. This book definitely was a pleasant surprise, and will appeal to a wide audience. This book is a mix of A Christmas Carol and Mean Girls, which come on...you have to admit, sounds pretty interesting. The plot of this book is extremely creative, and I absolutely loved Sarah Schmitt's writing style. It was the perfect mix of humor and lightheartedness, but never detracted from what the story was truly about.

One aspect of this book that made the book so enjoyable was the setting and the plot. Not only was it extremely creative, but it had the perfect pacing and had a great balance of funny and serious. The portrayal of the Afterlife was hilarious, but so unique! There were so many aspects that made you laugh out loud, but also made you a bit frustrated because even the Afterlife isn't immune to the power struggle that is politics. But trust me, this made it an even more enjoyable read.

As much as I didn't want to like RJ, I actually loved her character. Let me just tell you this, at the beginning of the book, you're really not supposed to like her, but throughout the course of the story, you end up loving her. She grows so much over the story, and it's like watching a tiny bud bloom into a gorgeous flower. She does a complete 360 by the end of the story, but never loses the things that make RJ, RJ. RJ was hilarious. I loved her sarcastic humor, as well as her gutsy, ballsy attitude. She definitely didn't back down when everything was against her. However, even though her commentary is filled with humorous moments, it's also pretty emotional.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When the first page of a novel features the main character’s accidental death at the hands of a bumbling and overzealous Grim Reaper, you know the rest of the book’s going to be one wild ride!

And that’s exactly the case with Sarah J. Schmitt’s debut YA novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH. Chronicling the misadventures of RJ, a self-centered cheerleader who’s desperate to prove herself worthy of a second chance at life, the novel careens from laugh-out-loud humor to spiritual rumination to heartbreaking realism without missing a beat. RJ herself is a wonderful character, a teen who’s made some truly awful choices in the name of being popular but who longs to be the better self she knows she can be. The characters who surround her, including not only celestial and infernal beings but RJ’s high school friends (and enemies), keep the action moving and the twists turning. When RJ gets the chance to relive three key moments in her life in an attempt to show that she’s redeemable, this Dickensian (or Capra-esque) plot device opens a profound reflection on the seemingly insignificant decisions that make or break a life. But the narrative never bogs down into preachiness or pedantry; RJ’s vibrant personality and the constant one-liners keep the book fun and engaging even when it’s delving deep. And the twist at the end is both shocking and perfectly designed, closing the book on exactly the right note.

IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH gets my highest recommendation. I can’t wait to see what other wonders Schmitt has up her sleeve!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You know how there are books with gorgeous covers that immediately attract your attention, so you check out the synopsis, and you're like, I've gotta read this book! It sounds too awesome to miss! And you're so excited, you even forget how beautiful the cover is because you're looking forward to diving inside to the story?

That's how IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH was for me. I couldn't wait to dive into the meat of this story. Could. Not. Wait. I had all kinds of scenarios I was imagining, and it was exciting. Really and truly exciting. Plus, I love to see how authors imagine the afterlife to be. It's always interesting and never disappointing.

So in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, popular girl RJ dies before her time because she's accidentally touched by a Grim Reaper, and as you can imagine, she's super pissed. Though she's a brat, I actually liked her snark and couldn't help but laugh at her attitude. Sure, she's self-entitled and stuck up and desperate to retain her popularity, but she's also very real. There are people like her out there (I know, right?!), and I actually found myself rooting for her.

I wrote this status update when I began reading the book: I'm only 14% in so far, & I love it so much! It's so funny and snarky and adorable!

There were things I liked about IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, and things I didn't like. As I mentioned, I liked RJ quite a bit. One thing that bothered me was how Death was called "Death Himself" every time he was mentioned, although I ended up getting used to it. I understood why he was referred to that way the first time, but after that I thought it was unnecessary.
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