Blurb: Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep.
Along comes Zach, the new guy in school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips.
Even as Madison begins to realize that she is more than what she thinks, darker forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. Can Madison find true happiness in her own skin?
Entertaining Angels by Emerald Barnes is a tough book to categorize but I think calling it a spiritual-warfare-romance about covers it. I was expecting a clear-cut Christian YA romance so the spiritual-warfare aspect was an interesting surprise. My first thought after reading the above blurb was that Zach was playing some kind of mean trick on Madison. But once you start reading, it takes all of two seconds to combine the Entertaining Angels title with the fact that Zach runs around saying things like “your body is a temple of the Lord’s” and I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say Chase’s concerns regarding Zach are unfounded.
Despite being nearly 20 years older than Madison, I didn’t have much trouble identifying with her. Body-image is an insidious battle and something many girls struggle with off and on. I’ve never connected body-image with spiritual warfare before but it makes perfect sense and I appreciated the concept. Satan will latch on to anything to undermine or prevent our walk with Christ; weight can definitely be one of them. But regarding the rest of the spiritual warfare in the book I have mixed feelings.
I was raised Southern Baptist and while I know speaking in tongues is biblical, I am seriously skeptical about tongues being used without an interpreter; not to mention other, more pentacostal practices like being “slain in the spirit”. So when the book took a sharp veer into that territory I was caught off guard. That being said, I think the subject was handled fairly vaguely – mentioned in passing and then not really discussed again. Frankly, so was Madison’s salvation – rather than being preached at the reader, it’s glossed into a hazy experience and never defined as such. It’s easy to overlook or debate theological differences in secular fantasy but I find myself more critical of books that are out-and-out Christian.
The romance was sweet and one of those “everyone knows what’s going on except the two involved” situations. But while clean, I don’t think they had the best habits regarding avoiding temptations. There’s a lot of hanging out alone in each other’s rooms, etc. Zach points this out once but it was never really followed up on. (Though my lasting thought after finishing the book is they were probably never tempted to go to far when they knew there was an invisible angelic presence always hanging around that just might pop out and say hi! lol)
Lastly, while a nice story, I never really bought the reasoning behind Zach appearing in the first place. Had he not come along, would things really have gone differently? Not to mention I don’t agree with the belief of personal guardian angels. And his actions toward her when she though he was a normal boy who might like her were awfully familiar and misleading – a lot of hugging, hand-holding, forehead kisses – which I felt were rather inappropriate when they were not in a relationship and very misleading when he had no intention to be. Not to mention Madison’s fixation with desiring to kiss him for the first half of the book…
So, overall, this was a simple spiritial-warfare/body-image story with cute romance aspects. I think it’s a good read for showing the spiritual side of the struggle and something most girls can relate to, but only if one is comfortable with more pentacostal Christianity. (And I’ve already got a close friend clamoring to read it after previewing this review. ;)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.