"In this recollection of a family tragedy, the author has created a book brimming with life. This skillfully written memoir begins with the report of a car crash that causes the death of the author’s mother, brother, sister and aunt, but moves quickly to recount the lives of these vibrant people. Their stories are the heart of this book.
In Aunt Leona’s chapter we learn what happens to this timid, conscientious woman when she makes her third confession within ten minutes. In Michael's chapter, we see mischievous Michael’s 8th grade report card with its forest of demerits, and we watch him grow to become a sensitive, witty, law student. We laugh over tomboy Sharon, who becomes a Franciscan nun and sets the convent abuzz with her impulsive ways.
The spirit of the book, however, resides in the story of Agnes, the author’s mother. After Agnes’s mother died, Agnes was separated from her father and raised by an aunt. Agnes grew up to be an outgoing and optimistic woman. At the age of 21, she married Lloyd Kelly and together they raised 11 children.
Unlike many memoirs that tell of a dysfunctional family, this is a story of a husband and wife who worked together to raise seven sons and four daughters. Both mother and father were shrewd observers of each child’s personality and character, and they used their insights to treat each child as an individual. Raising one child to be a successful adult is not easy; raising 11 is a monumental task. The Kellys approached that task with energy and zest.
Even the Angels is a story larger than the family itself. It is the story of how families can live together, work together, play together, and struggle together to make a living and to maintain themselves against the threat of loss and separation. In its essence, this is a book about the ability to appreciate the sweet times of life, yet meet adversity with courage and grace.
About Patricia Kelly Santelmann
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Published April 8, 2010
Biographies & Memoirs, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships, Health, Fitness & Dieting.