15-year-old Owen Marlow is experiencing a great, disorienting loss after his father suddenly passed away and his mother moved them to a new town. None of his old friends knew how to confront his grief, so he’s given up on trying to make new ones. There is one guy at school who might prove to be different if he gives him a chance but lately, Owen has been overwhelmed by his sadness. He’s started to have strange, powerful hallucinations of skeletal birds circling above him. Owen tells himself that these visions are just his brain’s way of trying to cope – until one night, the birds descend and take him to an otherworldly forest. There, he is asked to go on a dangerous journey that promises to bring him the understanding he so desperately seeks – if he can survive it.
Grief Angels is an urgent and heartfelt look at the power of nostalgia and the many different forms of grief. It’s about young men learning how to share their stories, and teens discovering who they are, and who they might one day become.
Title : Grief Angels
Author : David Owen
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : March 5, 2020
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 2.5-3 star review
Let me preface this review by saying that I really felt drawn to this book and its themes of grief. I have a professional and research interest in grief and for me this means that my mind is open, I respect utterly how people grieve according to their individualised needs and nature. I am sad this didn’t work for me in some aspects.
GRIEF ANGELS is an unusual read in many way, I truly appreciated this story that took young adult male friendships, didn’t sexualise them and realistically depicted a compelling story through them. The narrative was told through the two main characters of Duncan and Owen. Duncan was a young guy dealing with depression and toxicity in his long standing friendship group. Owen was a new guy in school, grieving the death of his father and finding himself along the way.
What was unique about this story was that Owen was whisked off in his grief by the ‘grief angels’ (read birds) to a fantastical land where he went on a quest with someone to do something. I remain unclear about some of this, so excuse the vagueness. I do not know if this part of the story was magical realism, analogy, hallucination or what. I feel that by the end I should have known this. I kept reading, kept pushing through with this element, wanting to find out the answer. I can make my best hypothesis about this but this element needed some world building and structure.
It is testement to the great YA story in the contemporary setting that I haven’t rated this book lower. I loved it when the story switched back to life at school and in the friendships. I wanted to stay there.
I’m sad this particular story didn’t work for me but I would definitely read David Owen again. I liked the characters he created and I enjoyed the larger parts of his writing.
Thank you to Atom books for the review copy.