by Susan Hughes
2010 Kids Can Press
Softcover Edition; 288 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from Kids Can Press
4 / 5 Stars
Virginia Donato has always had an indefinable quality that sets her apart from anyone else Ivy Morrell has ever known. But when this childhood friend and neighbor confides in her, confessing that she has been visited by an angel and asked to do something 'momentous', Ivy begins to think Virginia has lost her mind. As Ivy struggles to make sense of her friend's bizarre claim, she notices other strange happenings in the Donato household. Determined to find out more, Ivy discovers that Virginia's older brother Paul may have a shocking secret of his own, one that could have dangerous consequences. Can it be connected to Virginia? Should Ivy tell? And is there anyone she can turn to before it's too late?
I really did not know what to think when I first finished this novel. That it was gripping and made me contemplate a lot of things was unquestionable, but I certainly had a lot of questions that needed answering and these were questions that could not be answered through the book. Bear with me as I will explain what I mean.
First of all, I did enjoy this novel, but it was very different from what I normally read. Ivy learns from Virginia that Virginia has been visited by the angel Gabriel and has been asked to carry a child from God, an Immaculate Conception. Ivy does not know what to think about the idea, and is extremely sceptical right from the beginning. I have to admit that a modern day Immaculate Conception is not something that I have ever really contemplated and as the story went on, I was forced to think about the idea and the impact such a concept would have on our modern world. It was very unsettling to say the least.
As a main character, Ivy was enjoyable to read about and follow her story. She is determined, courageous, loyal, and brave. Her life is completely different than Virginia's, but she was worried for her friend, so she continued to investigate the situation despite the danger she put herself in. She was also willing to question, listen, and learn about new ideas and thoughts, especially concerning religion and philosophy, something that is not a really big part of her life as it is in Virginia's. I also really liked Virginia's brother Joe, but felt he was an under-developed character. I thought he was often just thrown into scenes as if the author did not quite know how to get him to the same places where Ivy was going to be. He had a lot of potential as a character and I did not quite feel connected to him like I did to Ivy.
The plot certainly had some unexpected twists and turns, many of which happened because of the great use of different points of view. The reader was able to 'hear' Virginia's thoughts at the end of each chapter and it gave us insight into what was happening in the Donato household as well as allowed some extra suspense and tension to seep into the novel. I certainly enjoyed this dual aspect to the story and found it more interesting.
The story line is certainly imbedded into the issues of religion and philosophy. For me that was not an issue as I have a strong background in both of these areas, either personally or educationally, so I understood the nuances and hints that were given throughout the novel. I'm not sure if everyone would however, if you had no background in religion. This is one of the drawbacks to this novel. On the other hand, I found myself stopping in the middle of the page or scene and reflecting on what I had read and thinking about my own religious beliefs and ideas quite often. It was a very reflective and deep thinking read.
I thought this novel was gripping and full of religious and philosophical suspense. It made me think about my own beliefs and truths and these are the questions that cannot be found in a novel, but are found within us. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in religion and philosophy and in the Bible.