Skip to main content

Angel Thieves

Review

Angel Thieves

- Click here to read Claire O.'s review.

Review #1 by Ian R., Teen Board Member

Kathi Appelt has written many over 30 books. She has written novels, picture books, poetry and nonfiction for children and young adults. Her most successful books are THE UNDERNEATH and TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGARMAN SWAMP. Books similar to ANGEL THIEVES are THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin and DREAM COUNTRY by Shannon Gibney.

This story is about 16-year-old Cade Curtis and his father, who steal angel statues from cemeteries to pay for their rent. Cade fears that if Soleil ever found out the truth about him --- that he helps his father steal angels from cemeteries --- she would never want to be with him.

ANGEL THIEVES is also about Soleil Broussard, the daughter of religious parents, who misses the toddler she helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In addition, Soleil is afraid that inviting Cade to a church celebration, and her stupid note, "Would you like to know about Ultimate Love?" is going to make him abandon her for good.

ANGEL THIEVES is also about an ocelot named Zorra who is trapped in a cage and is far away from her homeland. She is not meant to be in a cage but instead in trees and running freely through the fields.

"I would recommend this book to anyone that is into more atmospheric writing styles and simple writing style....Also if you are the type of person that hopes to learn a message from reading a book then this is definitely for you."

In another time period but in the same place, ANGEL THIEVES tells of a freed 18-year-old slave by the name of Achsah who escapes with her still-enslaved daughters after her master’s death. Achsah has been waiting for her freedom ever since she was purchased by him at the age of 12 to be his “treasure.” However, her master has deceived her. Yes, Achsah is free but her two daughters, ages three and five, got signed away to the wife of one of the master’s friends.

Last but not least there is the Bayou. The Bayou knows all of their stories and how they connect through the place and through centuries. The Bayou knows the words to encourage each of them and to move them towards their destination. During the whole course of the story, we meet new people and learn about other stories.

There were a lot of good things I can say about ANGEL THIEVES. For example, in ANGEL THIEVES the narrator changes back and forth in every chapter. In addition, three main stories from different time periods were being told in parallel. The various different narratives allowed for characters from different time periods to come together despite the time differences. They were brought together not through their story but through the strength of spirit, belief and hope. This made the book very unique and unlike most others I have read recently.

Despite all the good things, there were definitely some flaws that I noted. This book kind of reminds me of a big movie where there’s just a lot of information there. The difference between the two is that movies don't make you lose interest. However, ANGEL THIEVES ultimately lost my interest in everything it tried to do. It’s not that it was a bad book, it’s just that there was so much in it. Near the end of the book, I was just lost and started to wonder what was even happening because the story of another character or another timeline kept on being introduced and it just became too much to track. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that is into more atmospheric writing styles and simple writing style without much action. Also if you are the type of person that hopes to learn a message from reading a book then this is definitely for you. I hope you find ANGEL THIEVES to be interesting and I wish you good reading!


Review #2 by Claire O., Teen Board Member

Kathi Appelt, the author of several young adult novels including THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP, KEEPER and Newbery Honor Recipient, National Book Award finalist and PEN Center USA Award-winner bestselling book, THE UNDERNEATH, now dives into a story intertwined throughout the Buffalo Bayou of Houston, Texas. ANGEL THIEVES is a story of struggle and freedom, echoing throughout the expanse of time and throughout people’s hearts.

ANGEL THIEVES opens with the Bayou, forever watching and remembering everything and everyone that comes across the Bayou’s path. The Bayou remembers watching over Achsah, an emancipated slave from 1845 desperate to bring her two young daughters, who are still enslaved, the same blessing bestowed upon her. Ultimately, this means running for their freedom.

"If you enjoy beautiful stories of endurance and perseverance...read ANGEL THIEVES. Peaceful and alluring, it is great to read over a series of days, as I found it takes a while to fully grasp certain concepts of the story, intricately woven into the foundations of the book."

Now, the Bayou watches over Zorra, an ocelot ripped from her home by a hunter of exotic animals. Trapped in a cage of metal and wire without food or water, Zorra must cling to life as she awaits rescue. There is also Soleil Broussard, a teenage girl devoted to her church and beliefs but is torn by the workings of her heart. Soleil feels lost without Tyler Byrd, the young boy whom her family had taken care of, along with his parents, in the aftermath of the hurricane. But the family of three had left Texas for California in attempt to recover from the disastrous storm, and Soleil was left alone; that is, at least, until she discovers the crush she holds for the boy who sits behind her in American Literature. And there is Cade Curtis, a teenage boy who lives with his father and Mrs. Walker, the antique shop owner, hunting stone angels to get by. There is one angel out in the Bayou that may be worth enough to stop his angel hunting for good, but Cade has to find it first.

ANGEL THIEVES chases these intertwining stories, observing, like the Bayou, events unfold throughout the journey. Told from the narratives of Achsah, Zorra, Soleil, Cade, the Bayou and several other characters, the main focus is piecing together the larger image that surrounds each one’s specific life. Each character yearns for their freedom. Zorra and Achsah push for their physical freedom, unbound by any law or cage. Soleil strives for the freedom to love, hoping not to get burned on the way. Cade wants to be free from the moral burden that comes from stealing angels from the graves of the dead.

I enjoyed the constant underlying discussion of “What is freedom?” present in ANGEL THIEVES. Appelt makes it clear that freedom is different for each person, especially as each person desires different abilities or rights. It is not just defined by one’s independence; it is also defined by breaking away from the inhibitors that plague an individual. One is not necessarily free even if they have unlimited privilege or unlimited mobility --- emotional or mental baggage can inhibit people as well.

Some of the chapters are also very short, occasionally only being a page long. A new chapter starts each time to switch between perspectives, ending when the previous point of view has nothing else to contribute to the story. I found it slightly annoying as it breaks the flow of the storyline. Despite breaking the flow, though, it does add suspense at key moments --- at the climax, the perspectives began altering often pushed the story along. It helped speed up the story as I tried to figure out how everything connected.

I urge you, if you enjoy beautiful stories of endurance and perseverance, to read ANGEL THIEVES. Peaceful and alluring, it is great to read over a series of days, as I found it takes a while to fully grasp certain concepts of the story, intricately woven into the foundations of the book.

Angel Thieves
by Kathi Appelt