It’s a Wonderful Death
by Sarah J. Schmitt
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
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Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.
This book was a little different than I expected. I was excited to read a story of redemption and justice. The book did have that, but it had more as well. I didn’t expect to read about relationships and bullying and dealing with death. The author of this book uses superficial characters and sarcastic dialogue to talk about some deep topics like cancer and suicide.
I never really liked the main character, RJ. At the beginning, we’re not supposed to like her. She’s entitled, bossy, and very self-absorbed. She doesn’t give much thought to the people around her, but we can see that there’s some good in her deep, deep down. After her second chance, she’s a better person, but every once in a while she would say something that didn’t quite sit right with me. She was still a little too snarky for my tastes I guess. In some ways she had definitely changed, but in others she seemed like the same, old RJ. I thought the secondary characters really made the book. They were great, well-developed characters and I felt myself drawn to them in a way that I wasn’t quite drawn to RJ.
The plot was good, not great. I was entertained and wanted to finish the book, but I probably wouldn’t reread it. The ending was definitely unexpected, but I also wonder if it was wholly necessary? I think that’s something that each reader will have to decide for themselves. Overall, a pleasant read with a strong moral direction.
Overall Rating: 3
Sexual Content: Mild
Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
“‘Everything you do has a consequence. Good, bad, indifferent, there is always a price to pay. The question is: who pays? Sometimes making the right choice means you might lose something that seems important at the time.'”
“‘I guess I just got so caught up with being popular. I think, somehow, I lost myself.'”
“‘If I can do that, everything should work out?’ I could really use some reassurance right now.
‘I can’t promise you that.’
Not exactly what I was looking for. ‘But we can hope, right?’
‘Hope is a pretty powerful form of prayer,’ Sal says, his hand on the doorknob.
Absently I say, ‘I don’t pray.’
He pauses before responding, ‘Maybe you should.'”
“‘…But then again, is that not why we exist in the first place? Because we have faith to believe there is something more, something greater than ourselves?'”
“I nod. ‘No, it’s not fair. And you’re right. It totally sucks.’
‘But we’ll get over it, right?’ he says bitterly.
I think carefully about how to answer him. Finally, with a sigh, I say, ‘No. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. I never got over Grams and she was old. But somehow, in time, we’ll learn to get through it.'”
“I didn’t realize it before, but tears are streaming down my face. Not because I’m sad. I mean, I am, but that’s not why I’m crying. It’s because my life means something. Even in the future, my choices make a difference.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.
Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.
Note: I received this book free from the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.