Saturday, May 9, 2009

Review: Dirty Little Angels - Memorable!

Dirty Little Angels
By Chris Tusa
Livingston Press
147 Pages

“That night, I dreamed of Mama’s flesh creaking as the doctor unstitched the trapdoor in her stomach.”

Step into the life of Hailey, a teenaged girl around 16 who will tell you about the Dirty Little Angels in a novel by Chris Tusa.

Most people would think Hailey’s just another teen girl, trying out new things, trying to find her own way. Her family would have probably been considered middle class, until her father lost his job and her mother miscarried. Things had changed at home: her Dad is drinking a lot and having an affair, while her mother spends most days in bed bemoaning the loss of her baby. Neither parent pays much attention to Hailey and her older brother Cyrus anymore. And then her uncle, who was supposed to be a righteous man, is talking about evicting them from their home. Hailey spends a lot of time praying to God to help put her family back together. Lots of times she felt He was just not listening to her.

Her best friend is Meridian, but she can’t quite figure out why, with her being so dumb, and with all her fake “additions,” she was so popular with the boys. So when her boyfriend starts to pay attention to Hailey, when Meridian is not around, she finds it an exciting diversion, until Meridian finds out...

At the same time Cyrus and Hailey have gotten involved with a man called Moses, who is going to build a drive-thru church, and has Cyrus “picking up” some statues for the site. Of course, that they are stolen from graveyards doesn’t bother Moses. Moses has his own set of beliefs and when a young girl is raped, Moses and Cyrus decide to rough up the guy, only to have him die several days later and Moses thinks Cyrus has informed the cops!

Little by little, Hailey starts having strange things happen inside her head; she’s always tried to be a good girl and follow what her mama said, but now her Daddy is even taking her and having her sit in the truck while he talks to his girlfriend—who is begging him to leave his family, since her husband is lying in the hospital waiting to die of cancer. When Hailey visits the husband, and discovers a very nice man with whom she enjoys talking, she becomes even more confused.

Until finally, Hailey figures out what to do—and then learns all about the dirty little angels...

Tusa writes with a literary flair that sweeps you into the times and the lives of his characters. With a real talent for creating characters, readers begin to feel as if they already know these people—why, they are just like your neighbors, or those with whom you work: some very good people, and others, no-good, two-faced liars!

Most of all, though, is that the ending will create a memorable impression that sticks with you, even as you close the book, set it aside, and go on through your day...those Dirty Little Angels will be remembered for a long time!

If my review makes you think you’d like to read this book...get it! You won’t be sorry!

G. A. Bixler

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