I love YA literature even as an adult. Authors have freedom within the genre to do so much more than with books marketed for adults in most cases.
I don’t know if this is because the audience is more willing to suspend disbelief or more open to new ideas, but there’s more for a writer to play with that still has a greater chance of being published. That said, Christian fiction has been in a YA drought for a while.
I was worried that works like Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and L’Engle’s beautiful works were past us. Instead, there are romance primers for girls and next-to-nothing for boys and that’s been the case for many years now.
So imagine my relief and excitement when I heard about Shawn Smucker’s debut novel The Day The Angels Fell.
Smucker’s magical realism novel explores themes of death, good vs. evil, friendship and family. He tells the story of Sam, a twelve year old boy whose mother has just passed in a freak accident in his place. Immediately he decides that he must go on a quest to find the mysterious Tree of Life he’s heard from mysterious characters in town and his best friend, Abra, is along for the ride with him.
Smucker’s writing is clean and his voice is strong. I loved the images he colors his scenes with and his characters are complex and relatable. I was right along with him the whole way.
I often find that contemporary childrens and young adult literature in CBA gets quite preachy or at least harps on the “moral” far too much, but this is not an issue with Smucker’s novel. His themes are clear, but have such a depth. He trusts his audience and I think that will be appreciated by young readers and adults. He—and his characters, for that matter—don’t talk down to the reader. He’s pacing alongside the whole while with some truly profound insights tucked naturally within the story. I was often sent racing from the couch for a pen to underline some absolute gems. (See the meme below!)
I would recommend The Day the Angels Fell to fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and L’Engle’s a Wrinkle in Time. At turns dark and others heartwarming, Smucker’s world is original, heart-wrenching, and profound.