Review: The Unfinished Angel - Sharon Creech

The Unfinished Angel
by Sharon Creech
Ages 9-12
164 pages
Joanna Cotlen Books, September 2009

To me, Sharon Creech fits in that select group of authors one would recommend to older elementary students using the words, "This is an author you do not want to miss."  In fact, I did that very thing twice last week, in my annual pre-Newbery Power Point presentation to my two fifth grade classes.  So I don't mind saying I have high expectations for any book with Sharon Creech's name on it.

The Unfinished Angel is different from any other Creech book I've seen yet.  It has her same short chapters, same thoughtful, humorous inner monologue.  But the main character in this book is a mystery, and I had no more answers at the end of the story than I had at the beginning.  The angel has no name; it has no gender.  It simply thinks it's an angel.

What works about this story is the angel's bewilderment and frustration at dealing with "peoples."  It's easy to hear the angel complaining (in my head, in an Italian accent).  It doesn't quite have human vocabulary down, which leads to amusing wordplay and clever, invented words like "adulterinos" and "fidgetated."  It's like Junie B. Jones with four syllable words.  It is touching to note how, even in moments of great confusion, the angel cares for its humans with a sweet, grumbly sort of love.

What I think works against the story is the wandering plot and frequent deviations from the main story.  I found myself re-reading several passages, uncertain about where things were going, and still confused by the end.  I feel a little dense.

Final verdict?  I'm not sure I will recommend this to my students.  This is not as weak an offering as Castle Corona (which I thought blundered and doddered to an uninspired conclusion), but I'm not convinced kids will find their way through the slow story and strange words to appreciate the clever writing.  In the meantime, I'll continue to suggest The Wanderer, Bloomability and Walk Two Moons to anyone who will listen.

Awesomeness: 4 - clever and touching, but slow and confusing
Wordsmithing: 6 - funny speech patterns
Personages: 4 - I just didn't care enough for Zola or the angel, but the kids were cute
Mesmerizitude: 5 - the story lagged a bit at times, but the good writing helped keep it going

Other Reviews
• at The Reading Tub
• at Becky's Book Reviews
• at Charlotte's Library

This was posted at Saturday Reviews on January 16, 2010.

Labels: , ,