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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: The Summer of Hammers & Angels by Shannon Wiersbitzky

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The Summer of Hammers and Angels
Format Acquired: Adobe Digital Edition File
Publication Date: July 11 2011
Publishing House: Namelos
ISBN: 9781608981120
Source of Copy: Netgalley

Summary: Most folks have never seen an angel. I know, because I've asked them. I asked Miss Martha at the post office. "Maybe someday, Delia, God willing." God does a lot of willing in Tucker's Ferry, West Virginia. Delia's summer is getting off to a terrible start. First, an inspector shows up at the house and threatens to condemn it. Then lightning strikes, literally, and Mama ends up in the hospital. To make matters even worse, with no other family to speak of, Delia is forced to move in with her nemesis, Tommy "as-dense-as-a-stump" Parker. Not one to sit around doing nothing, Delia huddles with her best friend, Mae, and reluctantly recruits Tommy to help. The three of them resolve to tackle the long list of repairs, one by one. But Delia quickly discovers it takes more than energy and willingness to handle some problems. When things go from bad to worse, Delia has to take another tack, one that starts with admitting she just can't do what needs to be done without a lot more help. The Summer of Hammers and Angels is the story of an amazing summer in a girl's life, a summer of surprises and challenges, of shocks and recovery, of discoveries and friendship, and of loneliness and community.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)

The Summer of Hammers and Angels is a delightful and heartwarming story of one girl's very eventful and trying summer.

Meet Delia, our delightfully determined heroine, and the unfortunate way she starts her summer. Delia and her mother get a visit from the inspector due to the rundown conditions of their home. As if things couldn't get any worse, lightning strikes down on their house burning a hole through their roof and injuring Delia's mother, sending her into a coma. Afterwards, Delia moves in with the Parkers and she tries to make sense of all the unfortunate incidents that have happened to her. 

The good thing about this is that, obviously, religion plays a role in this story but Wiersbitzky manages to pull it off without being preachy at all. Delia is obviously a God-fearing girl, she wonders about angels as children are wont to do, and she prays to God for her mother's recovery.

Despite all those complications, Delia is not one to give up and call it quits. She returns back to her house and thinks of different ways to earn money and repair her home along with the help of Mae, her best friend, and Tommy, her so-called nemesis. Tommy and Delia are in that stage where boys purposefully tease girls to get their attention, and girls ignore said boys, or antagonize them even further which makes said boys tease them even harder. It's a vicious cycle. But Delia is in for a surprise because Tommy is actually quite handy and knows a few things about doing repairs and fixing up a house and is actually a big help to Delia and Mae.

In the end, Delia discovers that as determined as she is, she is not capable of doing everything on her own and that sometimes there's no shame in asking for help. She discovers friendship, community and family and that sometimes, when you're in need, all you really have to do is ask. Delia then realizes that angels do not always come in the form of white-garbed halo-wearing creatures, but that angels exist in different shapes and forms, and in the midst of you and me. It is with this delightful and insightful perspective from a young girl that we relive again the innocence of childhood, and the ability to reach out to others and be part of an accepting community.

Since it's the weekly segment of The Twins on Thursday, we've decided to write a little fan fic for Tommy and Delia, because they will make such an adorable couple one day!

This is a short story by the The Twins Read duo, inspired by Tommy's fall from a ladder in the actual story:

For someone who could probably, possibly, be a smart girl, Delia sure could be dumb sometimes. I could take a look at that roof without asking for some adult's help. I'm turning eleven in a few days, for Pete's sake. But of course, I had to do it sneakily so Mom and Dad won't have to do that thing parents are awfully good at. If you thought my Mom's nagging was bad, my Dad's look of disapproval is worse. I know I should probably ask for help this time around -I am climbing onto someone's roof, after all - but I can't help but think that Dad would not understand that I want to be the one up on that roof. I want to be the one who tells the girls where the problem lies.

It's a good thing that the garage door is open. Dad must have taken the lawnmower into the backyard. This is perfect! He won't know that I would just need to borrow his ladder for a little while.

I drag the silver ladder into the Burns' property, and saw Mae's open-mouthed expression, and Delia's look of indignant surprise. Well, she would always have that look, I guess. And I'm guessing that by the look of her face, she's going to tell me off the same way my Mom does. "What do you think you're doing?" I heard her ask as I was climbing up the ladder. I ignore her, and even when the ladder sways, I stay on. I have a tiny fear of heights, but it is not the time to act like I just want to go back down and eat ice cream or play with the other boys. I want to prove that I am useful, although I have no idea why I have to prove to Delia that I am.

Manly pride, I guess. Uncle Joe is my Dad's older brother. When the other boys of the family came to Uncle Joe for help, he'd clap them on the shoulder and say in his booming voice, "Where's your manly pride?" Dad said it was the Uncle Joe's way of saying he didn't want to help, but I'm not quite sure. I don't think men rely on each other that much. I especially don't want to rely on the girls, especially Delia.

Down below, Delia and Mae have pushed the ladder into position, although it did tear shingles off of the roof. Oops.

"Now look what you've done!" Steadily, I climbed two more rungs and glared at Delia as she shook her tiny fist at me. Her cheeks are flushed pink from all the pushing and yelling, and her hair is everywhere. I narrow my eyes. I am trying to help her, doesn't she get that? If worse comes to worse, Delia and her mom will have to move away, then I'd have no one close by to tease and annoy. Besides, girls shouldn't climb roofs. Dad always told me that being a boy meant that I had to help the girls do heavy work, even if the girl in question was Delia Burns.

"Yeah, Delia doesn't need you to break anything else." Mae's hand was cupped around her mouth as if she was using a megaphone. I would still hear her loud and clear even if she didn't do that. She takes after her mom that way.

"Get down here this instant!" Delia screeched. I couldn't ignore her any longer. She just sounded like my mom back there.

"I will not. You girls don't know anything. Roofing is man's work." I grunted as I approached the last rung of the ladder. Slowly, I heaved one leg on the roof, and then the other. "You're a man?" Delia shouted, as I tested my weight gingerly on the roof. I'd probably do fine, I assured myself as my legs start to shake a little. I have no idea what they were so freaked out about.

I take out my measuring tape and begin what I've come up here for. A few months before, if someone ever told me that I would be up on Delia Burns' house, fixing her roof, I would have laughed in that person's face. Delia Burns was a peculiar little thing. She asks weird questions, and even colored her ceramic Jesus rainbow. But now, I'm up on her roof, and she's down below, hollering as if she cared more that I would fall and break my neck, than at the possibility of her house being condemned.

And I don't want her house to be condemned.

During the summer, Delia Burns has been slowly growing on me. Sure, we still have our moments when she's being a diva and calling me a butt, but sometimes, it kind of feels like I'm just hanging out with my other friends. Except, you know, Delia's a girl, and Jack and Tim, my friends, are boys. And if there's one thing I noticed, girls smell better than boys. Even Mae, whose house is above the pet grooming salon, smells better than Tim all sweaty from pedaling his bicycle. I also noticed that girls are moodier. Delia's like a firecracker, and I could never tell when she would blow up.

But then, there's also this weird thing. You see, when Delia's not looking, I have this odd urge to touch her hair. I don't know why, but it seems like it would only be natural for me to be curious if her hair is as soft as it looks.

I shake my head. No way. This was Delia Burns. Delia Burns, whom I've heard muttering under her breath and saying that I'm as dense as a stump.I stand up quickly, wanting to erase my thoughts.

That was a wrong move. I lose balance, and I am flapping my arms. My heart drops to my stomach as my body falls backward.

I close my eyes and my thoughts immediately go to my Mom, my Dad, and to someone whose roof ultimately has a plan to kill me.

Darn this manly pride.



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