ARC Review – Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings by Victoria Schwab

FC_BC_9780545528467.inddTitle:  Everyday Angel #1: New Beginnings

Author: Victoria Schwab

Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★★★

Synopsis: At a first glance, Aria seems like your average twelve-year-old girl. She has coppery hair, colored shoelaces, and a passion for cupcakes. But there’s more to Aria than meets the eye. She can dream things into existence, use her own shadow like a door, and change the world in small, important ways. Aria is a guardian angel. She’s been sent here to earn her wings. But to do that, she’ll have to help three different girls.

Aria’s first mission is Gabby Torres. Gabby’s always been quiet, but ever since her brother got sick, she’s barely said a word.When a new school offers her a fresh start, Gabby wants badly to be someone new, but she quickly learns it’s hard to make friends while keeping half her life a secret.

And then Aria shows up. Aria, who knows exactly what to say and do to make Gabby feel better. Will she be able to help Gabby find her voice? And will Gabby still trust Aria when she finds out exactly what she is?

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review (4 Star):

Never judge a book by its cover. It’s hard not to sometimes. To be honest, my love of Victoria Schwab’s work holds no bounds, so I was delighted that she was writing a middle grade series that seemed cute and fluffy. That covers suggests that this book is cute and fluffy, but it’s surprisingly anything but.

The best way to describe Everyday Angel is that it essentially the television show Touched by an Angel, but surprisingly less preachy. It’s about understanding the world around you, trying to make sense of situations that are challenging, and above all, make tough subject matters more accessible to younger readers. All these things I mentioned? Yeah, Schwab nails them with ease.

Part of what I loved about this first book is that it dealt with someone having a terminal disease with no guarantees for a cure. Gabby is a character forced to accept her reality, but it’s one that causes her to struggle and even make her feel invisible to her family because her brother’s needs are so high maintenance. There’s no sugar coating in this story, Schwab uses the character of Aria to make these issues accessible to younger readers and there’s such a genuine sense of care from a lot of the responses that Aria provides to Gabby. She reminds Gabby that her feelings are normal and natural, something that a lot of kids her age would definitely struggle with.

This book is also not without humor and charm. I REALLY adored the character of Aria and I appreciated her lack of worldly knowledge, something that removed parts of the Touched by an Angel aspects that appeared in the story. We need more characters like her that are able to make everyday issues be something that we can talk about with children, that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about with our children. Overall, I cannot wait for book two of this series, because when Aria gets into trouble — boy is it fun to read about!

River’s Review (5 Star):

I only read this book because it’s written by Victoria Schwab. I loved her Archivedbooks (well, the first one, I haven’t had the chance to read the 2nd one yet, but I’ll get to it) and wow. This was so touching. I normally don’t read MG because I just can’t get into that well. YA is as young as I go, but sometimes an author I like writes a MG and I’ll give it a try. And this was lovely.

Gabby’s brother Marco is suffering from cancer and Gabby’s getting lost in the shuffle. She’s trying to be there for her brother and mother, but nobody’s there for her. Their father isn’t in the picture, and Gabby’s starting 7th grade in a new school in a new town. She’s excited to get away from the stigma of having a sick brother, which caused a lot of people to pull away from her at her old school, but at the same time nobody’s really supporting her. 

Then Aria shows up. Aria’s an angel who’s earning her wings. This is NOT religious at all. There is no mention of god or heaven or anything religious. Aria is simply an angel who is sent to help Gabby. And she does. She helps Gabby at school, helps her find something she’s passionate about, and she helps Gabby figure out her family situation. Aria doesn’t fix her brother, doesn’t fix anything really, and I really enjoyed that. She was just a helper, simple as that.

The writing is gorgeous and I never once felt that I was reading something for the MG audience. Most of the time I shy away from MG just because it reads too young and a lot of the emotional stuff is capped so I can’t even really feel much. But man, this touched my heart so many times and I got choked up a lot. There are sad moments, happy moments, and in-between moments all through this book.

And there are strong messages, which I think is totally appropriate for a MG book of this theme. Family, friends, loss, finding yourself… it’s all woven into the story, but nothing is heavy handed. 

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see who Aria helps next! And to read more of Schwab’s gorgeous writing!

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