Young Adult - Social Issues
232 Pages
Reviewed on 07/22/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A.J. Cattapan began writing stories in the third grade. Suspiciously, all her stories seemed to be about a girl named Amy. Eventually, her writing became less self-centered, and her short stories and articles began appearing in children's magazines. This led eventually to her first Chicken Soup for the Soul contribution (see From Lemons to Lemonade) and then to her first young adult novel, Angelhood, the story of a reluctant guardian angel who has to earn her wings by saving another girl's life. When she isn't busy traveling, Cattapan can be found writing and teaching middle school English in the Chicago area.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite

Angelhood by AJ Cattapan is a well-written and thought-provoking story about what happens when 17-year-old Nanette feels driven to end her own life. Feeling responsible for the death of her best friend, Ally, she hopes to find peace in the after life. But when she arrives there, she finds that rather than it being the end of her journey, it is the beginning of another. Helped by other Guardians/angels she is placed in charge of a girl called Vera. As an invisible Guardian, she must nudge Vera into finding solutions to her despair, begin to believe in her own talents, and not make the same mistake that she (Nanette) made. But there is a battle going on between light and dark. The dark shadows (caused by Vera’s and others’ negative thoughts and beliefs) can engulf them at any time. Will Nanette succeed at her challenge and so grow in grace and angel wings so that she can enter the next stage of the after life?

This is a carefully plotted, intriguing, and imaginative story with strong, believable characters. The suspense builds, leaving the reader wanting to know that goodness will triumph over darkness. I like the way AJ Cattapan takes human emotions of despair and loneliness and weaves them into her story’s beautiful message that says we are never truly alone and that taking small steps will turn life around. Angelhood is more than just a truly entertaining story. It also offers encouragement and hope to anyone who feels that life has temporarily lost its color, and how color and happiness can always be rediscovered.

Ginny Marie

The place Nanette feels most alive is on stage, and she has big dreams to become an actress. However, real life interferes with these dreams, and after a succession of tragic events, Nanette decides that life is not worth living. Little does she know that the afterlife is even more real than life itself.

She embarks into Angelhood and meets Vera, a girl like herself, also contemplating suicide. Can Nanette prevent Vera from making the same mistake? Nanette must battle the demons that haunt Vera and also must confront her own demons. Death is not the easy way out she had hoped it would be.

In this stunning debut young adult novel, A.J. Cattapan explores the age old question; what happens when we die? Cattapan deftly weaves Nanette’s story into despair and back into the light; it is a story that will capture your imagination and keep it captive until the very end.

Leslea Wahl

Angelhood by AJ Cattapan is a captivating YA novel that tackles an extremely difficult subject while putting an intriguing and heartfelt twist to it. Cattapan is a talented writer who has effortlessly created a story about teen suicide which is moving, positive, and uplifting. This hard to put down book encourages readers to think about the good in their lives and how much they’d miss it if they did the unthinkable and gave it up. The lead character is completely relatable and likeable, as readers we empathize with the despair she feels in her life as well as the painful realization of the damage her decisions have on others. The novel’s intriguing premises and subplots are the perfect elements to generate great discussions. I only wish I had known someone else who had read it because I had so much I wanted to debate and talk about. This is a truly exceptional novel.