Sixteen-year-old Chelsea Elizabeth Whitmore is killed in a boating accident while on a first date and returns to consciousness to find herself as an angel at her own funeral. She also discerns the presence of Lydia, her late great-grandmother, who’s been sent to lead her to heaven and fill her in on the details of her new existence. Chelsea discovers that she’s to be part of an angelic combat squad, under Lydia’s guidance, charged with aiding living people and landing blows against Satan’s minions. As if to prove that the divine has a sense of humor, Chelsea’s first assignment is to look after her own bully, Sidney Sappington, and two of her bratty friends. The girls’ lavish late-night antics lead to a confrontation with a stalker; thanks in part to Chelsea’s and Lydia’s monitoring, though, the perpetrator is caught. Their next job flings them onto the 19th-century frontier to first protect a woman named Abigail and then her daughter, Maggie, as each braves demons, wildlife, and conniving fellow travelers. After that, Chelsea and Lydia visit the remains of Baltimore in 2902 to reunite Chase, a downtrodden divorcé of modest means, with his son, Fred, despite Chase’s ex-wife’s attempts to separate them. Chelsea’s successes merit an encounter with the Creator himself—and result in a revelation that weaves the previous chaotic episodes together. This spunky novel is full of verve and inventive scenarios, and its underlying moral insights never seem contrived or didactic; all the knowledge that Chelsea gains, she earns through her own experiences and choices. Syben’s ambitious blending of sci-fi/fantasy motifs—such as time travel and Dantesque forces of spiritual good and evil—pays off in an easygoing, well-timed story that’s unhindered by its own complexity. Aside from this scenery, the novel’s themes are simple but not pat; the question of what makes for a good life looms large—even if the protagonist isn’t technically living.
A wily, tender bit of Christian-oriented fantasy that’s also likely to entertain the skeptical.
A "Highway to Heaven" meets "Touched by an Angel." Sweet sixteen isn't easy alive...or dead.
First three books of the Teen Angel Series: Rebirth, Survival, and Wearing Skin.