Strangely I was thinking, wrongly, that this novel was more “abstract” about a boy and his search for spirituality, and instead there is a lot of earthly subject, like, but not only, sex. The setting is the Southern US of, I think, the ’60, Kennedy is president, so for sure it’s before 1964. One of the other points other than sex the young man in the novel is facing, is the racist culture of the south, a racism that is not only limited to black people, but also towards who is different in any way, from religion to sexuality. Benjy is a Jewish boy in a Catholic private school, and this will lead him to be isolated, and to make friends with the misfits of the school. The ’60, the south, the private Catholic school, all of them concur to make the setting very well done, probably born from personal experience, and therefore realistic and engaging.
It’s strange since Benjy is only 13 years old, but I “heard” him like he was older; he is the narrative voice and he is not much older when the novel will end, still in high school, but what he lives, and what he feels, are usually to me of older boys. I had to think about it, and my conclusion is that, usually, if the author wants for his main character to have sex in a young adult novel, he makes the boy near 18 or even older. That is for a “publishing” point of view, kiddie sex is not well seen. But it’s actually wrong, we are all even too aware that underage sex happens, and unfortunately there are also abuses, especially in certain type of private school (I don’t want to enter in details or being political here, but that is often enough in the news). Letting Benjy being 13, having him facing sex and sexuality, made him even more realistic; true is that, in this way, this is not a Young Adult novel, not at all, this is a Coming of Age story for an adult target.
Kings of Angels is a melting pot story, with three strong main plot, Benjy’s Coming of Age, which includes his questioning religion and sexuality; the mystery / thriller / murder plot developing inside the walls of Benjy’s private Catholic school; and Benjy’s relationship with his father, a strong relationship that of course will help Benjy become the man he is destined to be. This last plot was odd to find, since I’m used to have the male character dealing with a problematic relationship with the mother, especially in the South. It’s important to highlight all these thread since it means this is a multi-layered story that can appeal to different types of reader.
Amazon: King of Angels, A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief
Amazon Kindle: King of Angels, A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief
Perfect Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Belhue Press; First Edition edition (March 24, 2012)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott