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Angel Thieves

Narrated by: Laurel Kathleen
Length: 5 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief. 

Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor-winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.

Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it....

Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort - but it tells her help will come soon. 

Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed....

In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.

©2019 Kathi Appelt (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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Each sentence is a morsel to be slowly ingested.

Print and Audio Book Review. Before readers ever read the first page of ANGEL THIEVES, they will know it’s unique. There’s the jacket illustration, there’s the amazing hidden gem beneath the jacket, and of course, just the book’s description sets it apart from what readers expect in books written for the young adult audience. Don’t be fooled by all the white space. Read a few pages, and it’s clear that Kathi Appelt trusts her young readers to think and process and absorb higher level concepts. That white space has purpose.

The stories in ANGEL THIEVESare told through very short chapters that give impactful snippets of story, characterization, and deeper meaning. Each chapter is powerful and so descriptive that more words aren’t needed. Reading Kathi Appelt’s lyrical prose is almost like reading poetry. Every. Word. Counts. Each sentence is a morsel to be slowly ingested, not devoured.

“Below him, the bayou slides toward the sea. The ancient haints rise from the water’s silver surface, linger for a moment, then disappear into the morning air.”

Houston’s Buffalo Bayou guides readers and characters through the passage of time and along its ever-changing channels forged by weather and man-made events. The bayou is both a physical and a mystical presence. It holds secrets and ghosts and memories, and it’s always watching and calling out – and even saving those who will pause and hear its voice.

In the same way that the waters of the bayou flow in unexpected, inconsistent ways, so do the lives of the other characters. There is serenity and volatility, clarity and murkiness. But both waters and souls are ultimately flowing one direction: towards freedom.

Appelt doesn’t shy away from bringing to light the characters’ barriers to freedom. For example, her thorough research (check out the bibliography at the end) reveals to readers the unsettling, shameful history of slavery in Texas. The story lines will make readers squirm at times, and that’s a good thing. We need to be reminded of where greed and lust for money and power and control can lead.

ANGEL THIEVES covers a wide range of really heavy topics and draws some uncomfortable parallels showing how history repeats itself. Appelt doesn’t sugar-coat ugly, and she makes some clear statements about the state of our world, but it is all incorporated organically and feels natural for the situations and characters. (Including the scattered F-bombs dropped by sixteen-year-old Cade. Like it or not, teenagers swear in real-life.)

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Perfection. Laurel Kathleen, the narrator of the audio book version of ANGEL THIEVES, treats listeners to an outstanding performance. Pacing is precisely what it should be (I listened at regular speed, which is a rarity), and she seamlessly shifts between characters and voices. She’s a natural storyteller, and especially when the bayou is calling, listeners will be mesmerized.

I highly recommend ANGEL THIEVES, and in a perfect world, read it AND listen to it for two entirely different but fully satisfying storytelling experiences. You won’t have loose ends neatly tied up, you won’t have clear answers, but you’ll have that ocean full of possibilities to think about, and that’s a rich gift.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours for the opportunity to help share this book with the world and the publisher and author for providing me a gorgeous, autographed print copy (and photo op) at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference to do it. In exchange, I share my honest opinion – the only kind I give. This full review and other special features on Hall Ways Blog.