The Unfinished Angel

I am reading The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech, who won the Newbery Award for Walk Two Moons, and who has written several other wonderful books. This book is delighting me more than any book I have read in a while.

The narrator is an angel living in the tower of an old villa in a village in southern/Italian Switzerland. The angel has been there for 400 years, but is more than a little unsure of he/she is supposed to be doing: “An angel is supposed to be a happy being, no? Angels are supposed to float about bringing love and goodwill and good fortune, no? I do not know where I got these ideas. Maybe they are wrong. Me, I am not feeling all that cheerful with the peoples around, and I am not finding many peoples deserving of the splashes of love and good fortune, even if I knew how to splash and where to get the love and good fortune.”

I find myself reading it out loud in a half-Italian/half-Slavic accent and giggling.

I quote this chapter in full:

Hairs and Feets

You won’t believe this, but there are peoples who pay money to other peoples to wash their hairs and even to paint colors on their toes. Is really! And in the same world of peoples there are other peoples who have to crawl in the dirt scrounging for a measly piece of garbage to eat. I am not fabbragrating! Don’t get me started.

At night I swish in the heads of the peoples with the clean hairs and feets, showing them the peoples crawling in the dirt, but in the morning when the clean peoples wake up they have already forgotten. I think maybe it is my fault that they forget so quick and so it is my fault that there are peoples who have to crawl in the dirt. I am not knowing enough. What are the other angels doing?

I am breathless with wonder at the ability of some writers to juggle words like luftballons.

2 thoughts on “The Unfinished Angel

  1. Thank you, Ms. Creech. Having finished the book, I have more: I decided that the angel sounds as if Samuel Beckett had written The Littlest Angel, if only Sam had more fundamental decency and hope. Truly, for the adult reader, there is much that is frightening about the angel’s predicament, our everlasting ignorance of our purpose and effficacy, of how we got here and where we’re heading. We know the mechanisms (place the frog on the roof), but not why we do them. (A bit of Kafka’s “Leopard in the Temple” there, too, I think.) Is the ending of the book a bit glib? Sure, but why not? A happy ending never hurt anyone, and I think it’s a very good thing that the angel is no more “clueful,” as he/she might put it, than when we started, just perhaps a little bit happier.

    How’s that? Should I go on? I could rave some more if you like.

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