My friend, coworker and fellow blogger, Missy Wilkinson, (I did a Follow Friday on her a while back, and she wrote a guest post for Lazy Lady) wrote a young adult novel called Destroying Angel. I went to her release party a few weeks ago picked up a copy of the book and had her sign it. Unlike when I signed books at the release of Allen the Alligator, in which I just signed a very simple signature, Missy was writing personalized messages to everyone at the party. I told her she was crazy, and she laughed, agreeing that it was hard to think of something for everyone. I told her to just write a poop joke in mind. She wrote "Thank you for being my fellow author, blogger and Gambit homie. Your support and poop are invaluable!" LOL.
I sat down and read Destroying Angel in two evenings. We start with meeting our protagonist, Gates McFarland, just as her mother passes away. Gates then starts a new school and has to deal with this loss. She struggles to make friends and find herself torn between two popular girls who are mean to her and the outcast named Penny who tries to befriend her but who Gates shuns so as to not be labeled an outcast. She finds and befriends John Ed, who is the protégé of her father, the high school band director.
Thrown into the mix of this high schooler trying to find her place in a new school, Gates is also curious to find out what happens to her mothers organs after she passes. The mystery really begins when Gates discovers that her mother's organs were never donated as her and her father were told by Dr. Asciutto. Well, I take that back. The mystery really begins on the in the very first chapter, when Gates's mothers disembodied voice tells Gates to find her heart. She also goes on to be a bit more cryptic, not that telling your teenage daughter to find your heart isn't cryptic enough.
With all this loss and confusion surrounding her, Gates is shunned by the popular girls she had mistakingly tried to befriend. She decides to give the eccentric Penny a chance, even if she is the weird outcast obsessed with unicorns. At first, I wanted to like Penny, thinking that she was just an innocent, immature and misunderstood her teenage girl whose love of horses stretched on longer than society would deem appropriate; but when Gates goes to her house and they play a video game together, we see a hint of a darker side to Penny. However, it is when Gates agrees to a slumber party at Penny's house that the book takes a real leap.
I had to read this section twice because everything happened so fast that, if you're a primarily "skimmer" reader like I am, you might miss something. In this world, there is a drug called Amanita, and Penny along with her "roommate" I think his name is Steve our growers and providers of this drug. It is a fungus and the spores of which open the human mind to see warm holes to other worlds. Penny takes Gates to her "castle" in this other world filled with bird people, a pegasus named Thunder and, yes, a unicorn, named Moonbeam. Here Gates find herself a true piano prodigy like she had never been before in the "real world". Gates returns home shaken by some things she sees and experiences in this world that I'm not going to go into detail about because I don't want to spoil anything.
I find myself struggling to continue to tell you about this book's story line, because I really don't want to spoil it for anyone. However, let's just say the action really picks up after this point and you won't want to miss it.
When I started reading this book it was hard to get out of my mind that my friend had written it; however, by the time I was reading the last page of the epilogue I had long been completely lost in this world. This book takes you to a rich world created by Missy, much like Amanita takes you away to new worlds.
I have to be honest, I was apprehensive about reviewing a book on my blog that was written by someone I know personally and see almost every single day. But I truly enjoyed this book. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys young adult, fantasy books. It deals with the organ donation and draws attention to a discussion that no one really talks about, but it is also a wonderfully written and beautifully imagined world. I look forward to reading what Missy brings us next. If you want to keep up with Missy, go check out her blog Now Listen, Missy.