A debut novella presents the angel Gabriel’s memoir.
As Gabriel explains at the beginning of his story, he has been sent to Earth by God to “inform humankind as a herald.” And though his most famous task involves “the news of Christ’s imminent coming to Earth,” this tale focuses on speaking with a family in Pennsylvania. Gabriel comes to Earth in 2015 in the form of a teenage girl named Debbie. She has been hired as an extra pair of hands at Jonathan Hanson’s fifth birthday party in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Everything is fine until Jon’s sister disappears. She is later discovered dead; she managed to suffocate while playing among some construction materials. What is an angel to do? Following a discussion with God in heaven, Gabriel returns to Earth, this time as a 78-year-old man named Dave Kryzinsky. His goal is to insert himself into Jon’s life. From there, he fulfills his mission as Jon’s guardian, seeking to further understand humanity’s plight. Of course getting to know a grieving boy and his family, especially in the form of an aged and apparently penniless stranger, is no easy task. Depicting a playful and at times cantankerous Gabriel (don’t even bother to try to get him to eat turkey on Thanksgiving), Miles’ story is a mixture of the fun and the serious. A young girl dies after all and it is hardly the only tragedy that will strike her family. Nevertheless, God is in control and it is a fact even Gabriel must learn to comprehend despite the pain he sees around him. Although aspects of the angel’s personality can be a little too cute (he does like his pastries), he ultimately becomes a memorable figure. While Gabriel’s human feelings are not so wild as to get him into too much trouble (he certainly doesn’t lust after anyone as either Debbie or Dave), his character provides insight into the difficulties and failings of mortals.
Mixing the lighthearted with the dire, this family story makes for a brief though nuanced look at the human condition.