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Paper Angels: A Novel Hardcover – November 9, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Paper Angels is like a rare all-night conversation with an old friend. It reminds us of who we are and what matters to us, and gets us up the next morning with new strength and purpose. Billy Coffey understands the secrets of the human heart, and writes a compelling story full of insight and redemption. Paper Angels glows with poetry, heartbreak, and deep faith, reminding us that even after our most painful trials, hope never fails. Readers will be touched by Billy Coffey's ability to find beauty and meaning in every day, in every soul. He portrays small town life with an energy, charm, and humor that few contemporary novelists can match. Imagine Garrison Keillor, then add a moving story of faith and lyricism that brings you bakc to the most beautiful summer days of your childhood, and that's Paper Angels."―Rosslyn Fay Elliott, Author of Fairer than Morning

"In his second novel, Paper Angels, Coffey once more shows his talent for using simple lessons to reveal profound truths. His writing hooked me with the first pages, and didn't let me go until the last secret was revealed."―Richard L. Mabry, MD, Author of Lethal Remedy and the Prescription for Trouble series.

"Combining a country-boy's sensibilities with a storyteller's imagination, Billy Coffey imparts grace to his readers. PAPER ANGELS is a troubling tale of a tender people navigating difficult times in a tenacious place, where hope digs in its spurs and flat-out refuses to quit. PAPER ANGELS is a testament to community as a healing place."―Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? 'Cause I need More Room for My Plasma TV

About the Author

Billy and his wife, Joanne, live with their two children in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. A product of his small-town locale, Billy counts as assets his rural authenticity, unwavering sense of purpose, and insatiable curiosity--all of which tend to make his front porch a comfortably crowded place.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Novel
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: FaithWords; 1 edition (November 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446568236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446568234
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Spurling on November 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I once read a book and found it to be simply-ordinary. I later met the author, and read the book again. This time I found it to be simply-extraordinary. What made the difference? I knew the author. I've read much of this authors writing and in so doing I've read his heart. And I think the world would be a better place if a bit of his heart would rub off on us all.
Billy is a master at paying attention. To Billy, listening is more of what prayer is than speaking. This is what makes his writing simply extraordinary. Simple because he freeze frames common events and we find ourselves painted into the picture - we can see our reflection in the pages. And extraordinary because with each brush stroke of his pen, we see simple hidden beauty that we otherwise would have missed. We find strength in the ordinary grains of life.
Paper Angels is a ride through the natural and super natural. The tragedy and ugliness of real life is depicted in the life of one man, Andy Summerville. He finds himself in a hospital bed with painful burns and scars. But learns the painful scars on his heart are the ones most in need of healing.
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Format: Hardcover
Billy Coffey tells stories. He's a master at telling stories. To understand why is to understand Coffey's second novel, "Paper Angels."

It's not that Coffey was born to tell stories. That's important, but it's not really what matters.
What matters are the stories themselves.

Andy Sommerville is in the hospital, recovering from some kind of attack that involved Andy being burned. A counselor named Elizabeth is sent to help him sort through what's happened and what he needs to do.

Together, Andy and Elizabeth sort through a box containing 12 items, most of which look worthless. A cap. Some napkins from Dairy Queen. Part of a fingernail painted red. A wad of chewed gum. A slingshot. A key chain. A few other things.

Monetarily worthless. Yet these are the things that Elizabeth and Andy will use to make sense of Andy's life, and where he goes next. As worthless as they might seem, they represent what matters in Andy's life. And they are important.

Coffey uses the stories to construct a larger story, the story of Andy Sommerville but also the story of each of us. We all have those major events we think of as the important milestones of our lives - marriage, graduations, births, deaths, recognitions, honors. In between the milestones is a lot of living and a lot of life - and that's where we find the stories.

It's in those stories we discover what really matters about our lives and ourselves, because the stories of our lives are what we are meant to be. And this is Coffey territory. This is the landscape he draws and paints, a landscape composed of both place and people.

This is the landscape Andy Sommerville travels. Those souvenirs in the box are more than artifacts and reminders. They are the DNA of a life.

No one describes that DNA better than Billy Coffey. No one.
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Format: Hardcover
Andy Sommerville seems no different than others in his rural Virginia community, but what sets him apart is that his best friend is an angel. Andy's world is turned upside down when a brutal attack leaves Andy burned and the boy he loved as a son dead. At this crucial juncture, the angel abandons him to loneliness and pain. The entire story is told from Andy's hospital bed as he relives his like through memories. Each of the memories is triggered by something Andy has kept in a special box.

Dollycas's Thoughts
I started to read this book awhile ago and had to put it down because I could tell where it was headed. With its release date last week I made myself finish it so I could honor my commitment for an honest review. In the meantime, I had seen a few five star ratings, so I thought: What is wrong with me? This has to be a good book, you just have to finish it.

It is well written and definitely has strong message but it just hit me wrong and after thinking about it, I now know why.

As many of you may know I had a traumatic experience myself back in 2001 when I was in a motor vehicle accident and spent 75 days in the hospital. I do not remember much after getting transported by Med-Flight to the hospital except for a few moments in the emergency room when everyone was talking how dire my prognosis was, then a solid tone from a monitor, then darkness, then "she's back". (Note to medical personnel, we can hear you!) The next 3 weeks are gone from my memory. I know it is a miracle I am here and that it "wasn't my time", but the only angels I had were humans that took care of me, rehabilitated me to move on my own and my family, friends and all their prayers. I had actual counselors to help me heal.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I hope that I can do this magnificent book justice with my review. I will give it my best shot, but just know that if I could give this book 10 stars, I would.

We live in a world that has been completely and thoroughly brain-washed by "the power of positive thinking" and "prosperity preaching." We are required to smile at all times, think happy thoughts at all times, and suppress anything that be even the slightest bit "negative." No pain, no sadness, no loneliness is allowed here -- and not because it doesn't exist. Its existence is very real indeed. But we are forced to suppress it all for convenience and appearances.

This is why Paper Angels is a soothing balm for souls that grieve. In the character of Andy, we can all see ourselves and what we have lost in life. And we take that journey with him, step by step, in uncovering our own grief and learning that our feelings are very real, and they are okay. I highlighted many many insightful passages in the book, but here are a handful:

"Life was full of tragedy and there was no reasoning with it. Sometimes 'I'm sorry' is all you can say because it's all you should say."

"To feel sadness did not mean I had no faith; it meant I had an abundance of it. It meant I could see things were not what they should be. What they were intended to be. That there had to be more. Better. It was not my fault and not my doubt that made me feel the way I did. I hurt for no other reason than because I was alive."

"Happiness is an overrated emotion at best. ... No one's here for happiness. ... God wants people to dry tears and mend hearts. That's pretty much an impossible task until you've shed your own tears and had your own heart broken.
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