Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dream With Little Angels by Michael Hieber

Dream With Little Angels started out strong with a haunting scene from 1975. On a lonely autumn day a brilliantly described willow tree is hiding and shielding the broken dead body of a small child in a way that makes you feel for the small girl even though, at this point, the reader knows absolutely nothing about her. Then shoot forward twelve years when everything starts going downhill.

At this point the story begins to be narrated by Abe Teal an eleven year old boy with a big imagination, dozens of questions, and a mother who is a detective on the tiny town’s police force. Abe also has a fourteen year old sister and although he indicates they were very close in the past, especially after the death of the grandfather they loved so much, she’s growing up and in her “rough” stages of becoming a woman (at least that’s what his mom says).

The suspicions start when a new neighbor moves in across the street, seeming as though he sets off a chain of events including the disappearance of town road kill, loud noises in the middle of the night, and finally the disappearance of another young girl. To me it all sounded like a recipe for a good mystery. Is the neighbor really as shady as he seems or is a red herring? I wanted to know and was even sure I could deal with the overly exaggerated Southern accents. And I did stick it out but there was just so much that made me almost wish I hadn’t.

I did not like any of the characters. Abe’s mother was so hot headed and emotional that I’m surprised she wasn’t suspended from the force (she actually pulls a gun on the boy hooking up with her daughter. I mean yes he is far too old for her but he was not being violent nor did he have a weapon). Abe would behave like a typical eleven year old but his thoughts portrayed anything but. His best friend Dewey behaved like an even younger boy yet he was overly curious about sex, relationships and shooting guns. Abe’s sister Carrie is the brattiest girl ever. Case in point: her mother, who worked on the original case and the newer ones, is of course concerned for her daughter so she allows Carrie to go out on a Saturday only if Carrie is home before dinner. Carrie returns hours after her curfew. Then she has the gall to be offended when her mother wants to ground her! Really? There’s someone out there kidnapping young girls and she really doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t be doing things like that? If she learned from the situation I might have been able to forgive her but another girl goes missing and next thing we know Carrie is sneaking out at night. I’m all for a little teenage rebellion but I’m kind of offended by the idea that a fourteen year old girl would be more worried about hooking up with boys when girls her age are being taken.

The biggest issue for me? Abe is only eleven. I understand that losing your dad when you’re young and growing up with a mom on the police force would mean you’d grow up fast but whoa boy. Throughout this story his mom discussed the murder and rape of the first girl in loud voices in the middle of the living room. She fully knew Abe was listening when she was talking to other police officers in the department and didn’t stop it. And, when one of the girls goes missing and then is found, his mother allows him to go to the murder scene and see the body with its slit throat and everything! And all because she felt there was something he needed to learn from it. I mean I know it’s good for kids of all ages to be aware and look out for themselves but do they really need evidence of rape and murder shoved in their face?

So all in all I liked the setup and the idea of the story but when it came to believability of the characters and the situations the put themselves in it fell really flat.

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