Bright Angel, by Isabelle Merlin

Anything can happen. Everything can change in an instant. It doesn’t matter who you are. You could be the cleverest, bravest, strongest person in the whole world or the most ordinary and humdrum – and still it can come to you. The bold from the blue, the heaving of supposed solid earth under your feet, the shark in the summer water, the truck on the wrong side of the road, the maniac in the crowded street. Wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what they say. That’s what they say…

Sylvie and her sister Claire are recovering from a truly dreadful experience and their parents decide it could be a good idea to get them right away for a little while. The girls’ aunt Freddy is a non fiction writer and she’s currently in France researching her new book. Perfect. The ideal diversion. The girls are happy to go, neither of them wanting to talk about the trauma they’ve suffered. And at first, France is everything they could possibly imagine and more. The scenery is beautiful. They’re invited to watch a movie being filmed. There are gorgeous guys. Even a gorgeous small boy named for an angel, Gabriel. Gabriel knows there are angels, but neither his cute big brother Daniel or Sylvie are quiet as sure. But when Gabriel, angel of a child, is kidnapped, everything changes.

Sylvie and her sister Claire are just ordinary people to whom something extraordinary (not in a good way) has happened. They are proof that there is no protection against the randomness of living. But in France they discover that there is no running away from trauma, no protection from bad or evil things. Sylvie tells the story in first person and is the main character. She’s a brave and resourceful character, but not without her foibles. She’s rash and impetuous and this gets her into more trouble, as she seeks to understand the relationships that are developing around her. Shock and grief affect people in very different ways and Sylvie must try to understand if she is to be able to help her friends. Bright Angel twists and turns like a French country lane on its way up a mountain. Recommended for mid-secondary readers and beyond.

Bright Angel

Bright Angel, Isabelle Merlin
Random House Australia 2010
ISBN: 9781864719635

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.