Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne and Travis Thrasher is a novel based on the Salvation Army Angel Tree which provides Christmas gifts to needy kids. A child’s name is written on a paper angel, and then a “wish list” for Christmas with the child’s age is included. A few years back, I was a Chairman for a local Adopt-an-Angel program and so this book appealed to me. Reading it reminded me of the year I collected more than 1,200 gifts for kids in foster care and watched the community open their hearts to kids they’d never met. As I turned the pages of the book, I remember the outpouring of the human spirit for needy children.
Kevin Morrell is a forty-three-year-old husband and father who runs a successful design and marketing firm that’s crashed into the suffering economy. Attempting to navigate the busyness of the mall at Christmas, Kevin is humbled when he stumbles across the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Project. His wife insists that he take a paper ornament.
The name on the ornament is Thomas Brandt, a fifteen-year-old still reeling from the implosion of his family—from years of verbal abuse from an alcoholic father to a mother who finally left him behind, only to find herself and her children penniless and struggling. The only thing has allowed Lynn to survive is her faith. Thomas shares that faith, but he also wonders why God has seemingly abandoned them.
This is the story about a man and a boy one December. A man whose life is changed by a simple expression of kindness, and a boy who takes that expression of kindness and shows the true meaning of Christmas.
This novel is an inside look at the lives of children on the other side of the paper angel. It humanizes the kids and their families and demonstrates how poverty finds them. One story looks at a single mom sheltering her children from an abusive husband, while another story examines the middle-class faced with job loss and financial hardship. Each family encounters the Salvation Army Angel Tree and has an unique experience with it.
From my personal experience, I remember cutting out the paper angels for the Christmas tree. We had a list of names of the children in foster homes and wrote their age, name and three items they wanted for Christmas. Some of the items were simple- like a pair of warm pajamas or a doll, while others were over-the-top such as a 10-speed bike or an X-box. To my amazement, people bought the extravagant as well as the simple. No child went without a gift, and I saw my office and hallways filled with giving hearts for the Angel Tree.
Paper Angels is an enjoyable book to read during the Christmas season. It’s a reminder of life outside our own homes, struggles within different economic classes, and a central theme of giving. It’s simple in style yet significant in its message of giving. Take some time this year and step into the lives of the paper angels.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Paper Angels free from Simon and Schuster as part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here to find out How to Become A Book Review Blogger.