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River Angel

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  310 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In April 1991, in a little Wisconsin town about a hundred miles southwest of the town where I grew up, a misfit boy was kidnapped by a group of high school kids who, later, would testify they'd merely meant to frighten him, to drive him around for a while. Somehow they ended up at the rive, whooping and hollering on a two-lane bridge. Somehow the boy was shoved, he jumped, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 9th 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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32nd out of 141 books — 76 voters
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Books with Biblical Angels & Demons
85th out of 106 books — 165 voters

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Community Reviews

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Amanda Birdwell
Okay, I understand that I'm three for three when it comes to Ansay's novels, and reviewing them as Among the Best Books Ever, but really. I actually shelved three other books that are due before this one out of an intense need to read every Ansay novel possible. This one was marginally harder to get into than the others -- I think, honestly, because it starts with the least sympathetic character, and one who then takes off and isn't seen again.

The difference between River Angel, which I loved,
Friends who read my reviews here know it's rare for me to give a book five stars, but this one deserves every one of them!

I love books that raise huge religious questions and don't answer them, whose approach to the questions is ambiguous and contradictory. This book does that beautifully. Some of the questions are: Does God have a plan for our lives? What is the relationship between organized religion and personal faith? Is prayer effective? Do angels exist, and do we have guardian angels who p
Rather slow moving. A young boy, Gabriel, and his father travel across the country to the town of Ambient, where his father grew up. They arrive at his uncle's house and Gabriel meets his uncle and grandfather for the first time, together with his uncle's wife and her 2 sons. Returning from midnight service, Gabriel discovers that his father has left. It's Christmas Eve.

This book touches on faith, the faith of an individual, the faith in a community and how people wrestle with everyday life whil
This novel is about faith, of a conventional sort and a more supernatural variety. In A. Manette Ansay's tale, a mysterious death turns a town upside down and tests longtime relationships. Ansay's musings about faith are the best part:
"It is meaningless to hold the yardstick of fact against the complexities of the human heart. Reality simply isn't large enough to hold us. And so the sky becomes a gateway to the heavens. Death is not an end but a beginning."
"The greatest act of faith was learning
Mary Kinietz
Novel based on an incident rumored to have happened to have happen about 100 miles from the author's hometown. She spins the story as it could have happened and each chapter is told from a different and each chapter is told from a different townperson's perspective. The story becomes the thread that ties together description of life in a small town and the people who live there as suburban sprawl creeps into this town and changes their lives.
Kristin Runyon
I definitely want to read more books by Mansay! This novel was more like a series of related short stories; I wasn't even sure how they were related until the 3rd or 4th one. The novel was inspired by true events, but every character is fictional. It's a very realistic novel, although a little grimly realistic. I probably baby liked irpt, in part, because it's not happily-ever-after.
So good (again) that I am going to look for all other books by this author!
Melody Puller
A. Manette Ansay is a Midwestern Flannery O'Connor.
I'm really enjoying this author.
Natalie McCulley
It was interesting to learn more about small mid-west towns of the US. Full of religion.
Kate Thorson
The book was a little hard to get into partly because each chapter has a different character narrating and partly because I did not like the first character. But a worthwhile read, the book moves in chronological order through the chapters coming closer to one event and slightly past the event. Not all characters are religious or come at religion in the same manner. Very easy to read one chapter and come back later. Overall I enjoyed the place the book took me.
The blurb for this book makes it sound like it focuses on a boy who drowns and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. That is true, but the book is so much more than that. A series of vignettes, like beautifully detailed miniature portraits, describe the inhabitants of the small town of Ambient, Wisconsin. Old and young, all with secrets behind the friendly smiles -- each person has a fascinating story to tell. I loved this book.
Kathy Nelson
This novel was kind of hard to get into. We already know what is going to happen in terms of the action of the story. The shifting point of view, however, is interesting and shows us each character's interpretation of faith.
Based very loosely on a real event in Wisconsin. Story of a boy ridiculed by many and a vagrant with his dad. Is the boy killed by teens? Body found in barn but not in the river where he drowned? Disturbing.
I have really liked all of her books that I've read. This one is interesting in that it thoughtfully shows many townspeople's conflicting views on a tragic event that has religious implications.
We had the best Book Club discussion on this book because of all the symbolism. Ansay writes about some quirky subjects but she has such a beautiful way with words.
She thought about how she no longer remembered feelings so much as recalled what she had felt: She'd loved him, admired him, missed him. Valiant, empty words.
This was...okay. The characters weren't very well fleshed out. I'll pass it along but I didn't love it.
Dana Smith Minor
Very well written. Interesting. Different. I plan to read all of this author's books. She is good.
Good story about a small town, its people, and a kidnapping gone wrong..
Read this one long while back, but remember liking it a bunch.
Some sad and wounded characters.
2.5-3.0 stars
Not a bad read
Emily marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2015
Cab marked it as to-read
Nov 04, 2015
Mena Krishnan
Mena Krishnan marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2015
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A. Manette Ansay grew up in Wisconsin among 67 cousins and over 200 second cousins. She is the author of six novels, including Good Things I Wish You (July, 2009), Vinegar Hill, an Oprah Book Club Selection, and Midnight Champagne, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as a short story collection, Read This and Tell Me What It Says, and a memoir, Limbo. Her awards include ...more
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