A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Kiriel is a fallen angel with a dead-end job in Hell. Bored and fed up, he decides to take an unauthorized vacation by taking over the body of a teenager just before he dies. He knows he will only have a few days at best before he is caught and punished, but he's determined to experience as much of human life as he can in that time. But life as a human is much more complicated than he realized.
Is it any good?
This ingenious conceit allows Jenkins to explore both the wonders of the everyday and the metaphysics of sin, retribution, and the afterlife. His concept of the latter, in which the only punishment is what souls inflict on themselves by constantly reliving their sins, is intriguing, and should provoke much thought and discussion, as it seems intended to do. In fact, what misleadingly seems like a lightweight trifle of a story has layers of ideas that would make for some great class discussions -- if only there wasn't all that talk about sex.
Seeing normal life through the eyes of an ignorant innocent has been done before, going all the way back to David Hume. But a demon has a unique point of view -- he may not understand much of normal life, but he knows where the patterns he sees on earth will eventually lead. And being fed up with dealing with the torment of souls in Hell, he'd like to prevent a few from ending up there, if he can. So, while there is much he doesn't understand, there are some things he understands all too well, and better than ordinary humans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the little changes Kiriel tries to make. Is it possible that such small things could make a big difference? If they are so easy and so within our power, why don't we do them more often? Can the ripple effects of small acts really change lives? Also, what do you think of the depiction of Hell and punishment presented here?