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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Unearthly - Cynthia Hand In which a girl, who is really an angel, meets a nice boy and has a perfectly normal (sometimes sweet, sometime angsty) and healthy relationship with said boy. I.e., boy isn't a creepy stalker. When the relationship goes sour, the girl is really sad, but she doesn't think she will die--die, I tell you!--without the boy. There is a bit of a love triangle, but both boys are decent fellows. There really is no bad boy in the equation.

I give Unearthly a 4.5, but I'm rounding it up to 5 just because it was so refreshing to see a healthy portrayal of young love. Especially in a paranormal, where bizarre and sometimes downright abusive relationships proliferate.

Clara's mom is half angel, which means Clara is a quarter angel. There are definite perks to being part angel. Clara heals fast and she's good at just about everything she does. Except fly fishing....

Clara, her brother Jeffrey, and her mom are living in California when Clara gets her angelic purpose. It comes to her in a vision, showing her a gorgeous dark-haired boy in a burning forest. It would seem that said pretty boy needs rescuing. In one version of the vision, Clara sees the boy's truck's license plate and realizes that he lives in Wyoming.

So off to Wyoming--Jackson Hole--the family goes. Because an angel's purpose is something that must be fulfilled, a kind of right of passage, I guess.

Clara enrolls in high school where she learns the boy's name is Christian. Real life Christian is just as hot as dream Christian, and so getting to know him is far from a hardship. Except for his girlfriend...

Meanwhile, Clara's new friend Wendy has a twin brother--Tucker. Tucker is a outdoorsy, cowboy type. He teases Clara and calls her "Carrots," because her hair is a dreadful shade of red. (Dyed to hide her blond hair which has developed an embarrassing tendency to glow.) As Wendy notes, when a boy teases you, it often means he likes you...

As love triangles go, this one isn't too heated, especially since one corner drops conveniently drops out of the picture for a while. But it isn't all about romance for Clara. She needs to learn how to be an angel, in particular fly, if she's going to accomplish her mission. Help comes from a surprising source, when she learns that one of her fellow students is also an angel, albeit the child of a Dark Wing, a kind of evil angel.

I really enjoyed this because Clara is smart, but not so overly wise beyond her years as some YA protagonists. I found her reactions refreshingly real, and at the same time, not so stupid that my eyes were in a permanent state of rolled back up into my head. Both Christian and Tucker are likable, charming and vulnerable, and neither suffered from testosterone poisoning.

Actually, the only person who bugged me was Clara's mom. Why? Same reason the adults in Harry Potter sometimes were annoying. Here you have a situation where a young person is going to be in danger. It's unavoidable. The adult--Clara's mom--knows this--and yet withholds crucial information from the teen supposedly to protect the teen. Makes. No. F*cking. Sense. As an adult, I understand the impulse to want to shield a child from danger. But if the child is given no information about the danger, how will they recognize it?

OTOH, the dynamic between Clara and her mom provides needed tension as Clara starts to rebel.

I'll definitely be reading any follow up to Unearthly.