The Sweet Dead Life
By: Joy Preble
Pub. Date: May 14, 2013
“I found out two things today. One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”
So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.
Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance.
I really had no idea what to expect with this book. I just knew I had to read it because I love Joy Preble so much, both as a writer and as a person. I ended up loving The Sweet Dead Life! It's an angel story unlike one I have ever read. It was fun, sweet, and a quick and easy read.
I really enjoyed diving deeper into the Angel organization and figuring out what happened to Jenna's mom, dad and brother, and also what is making Jenna sick. I thought the writing was fantastic, because I really couldn't figure out what was going on until it was revealed to me.
My favorite character was Casey. He dropped out of sports so he can work two jobs to support his family after their father left. I have to admit that I loved him even more after he became an Angel. He was just so much fun! I also enjoyed Jenna and thought she was hilarious. Even with everything she was going through she always made me laugh out loud with her ridiculous and humorous wit!
I highly recommend, The Sweet Dead Life, especially if you are looking for a light, sweet, feel good read! I can't wait to have a finish copy on my book shelf!
THE SWEET DEAD LIFE is a different sort of angel book. We –Soho Press, Random House, and I—believe that this is an awesome thing! It is an angel book with a
twist. An angel book without the protagonist falling for a hot fallen angel
This is not to say that there is not romance or hot guys in Jenna’s future. Just that the primary angel in her life is her older brother Casey. Which is not the same at all and in the best of ways! It is an angel book with cowboy boots and
football and breakfast tacos. An angel book about family and love and the
healing power of kolaches. A sibling story. A story of an unlikely hero because
on the surface Casey Samuels is about as unlikely an angel as one might
imagine. Which is really how I think it should be. There is in fact, if you
want to get theological about it, which I don’t at this moment, great precedent
for people being visited by angels and not realizing they’re angels.
Plus it has allowed my editor and me numerous crazy conversations about: angel powers, good and evil, the dark wonderful humor of this world, the great good we do and the great and hugely sucky bad stuff, and much, much more, always somehow leading back to why he likes Led Zeppelin, child-rearing, famous guitar riffs, what happens if you work a violin bow into I Want Candy, and occasionally global warming, which I tell him Texas doesn’t believe in. And then he says things like how the TSDL series has characters you can love, root for, loathe and empathize with all at the same time. Which is all I could ever want.
Plus THE SWEET DEAD LIFE is humorous – in an irreverent but respectful
Texas way of which we in the are uniquely
capable, possibly because we were once our own country here and how many other
states can say that? So it makes sense that Lone Star
State Texas angels are DIFFERENT and FUNNY and
fond of German pastry and the occasional toke of weed.
That said, there are many, many other angel stories out there, and I love most of them! I would say that my inspirations probably come more from films like Dogma (the one with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and Alanis Morissette playing God) and Michael (which is the film where John Travolta plays an angel who smokes and drinks but somehow still always smells sweet, like cookies.) The general world view in the TSDL series is that angels exist and have a Management system that often puts them on a ‘need to know basis’ until they’ve proven themselves. You can indeed – a la the angel in It’s a Wonderful Life—be sent back after dying to be someone’s guardian angel. Humans can accomplish more than enough bad stuff all on their own so while there are supernatural causes of evil, they have a run for their money with our own bad behavior. Angels can be a cranky, unpredictable lot, but they can’t help but doing good. And they can walk among us undetected if they so choose. Plus there is ‘damage control’ in case they get to showing off for one reason or another. Beyond that, I say you’ll have to read to find out!