Author: Angela Morrison
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
After reading Angela's debut novel, Taken by Storm, I was hooked on her. I love finding authors that aren't the big NYT bestsellers that everyone and their grandmother reads that are this good. Their talent is like a shiny little pearl inside a clam. Protected, and so precious. Angela Morrison is a great example of one of those authors. She has a lot of loyal fans, and her stuff transcends those big bestsellers in the raw emotion and characterization. My favorite part about Taken by Storm was the way she wrote the romance, and Sing Me To Sleep shows the same shining talent that her debut had.
Beth's always been called the Beast. She's one of the tallest people in school, her hair is long and reddish, and genetics has given her the worst time with acne. Her only real friend is Scott, a boy she's known since preschool, and even he's managed to get kind of sexy despite once looking a lot like her. Between that and the constant bullying from a group of senior guys known as the Horsemen (ala the Apocalypse), Beth doesn't feel like she's worth something. There is one thing that makes Beth a beauty.
When Beth sings in the school chorus and the competitive all-girls choir she is a part of, everything falls away. She can sing as high as the sopranos and as low as the tenors, and her voice is great. Her fear of looking bad makes asking for solos a lost cause though. That is, until the girls choir soloist Meadow gets cold feet, allowing Beth to stand in for a really hard solo that she just loves. She nails it, and before she knows it she's getting a make over, and the choir gets a chance to compete in Switzerland. There, she meets Derek. Before she knows it, she's no longer the Beast. And how will she react when she finds out what Derek's been hiding from her? Sing Me To Sleep is a tale of self-image and true love, and all of the heartache that comes with it.
Beth's character is one that a lot of girls will identify with. Despite the fact that she isn't ugly, being teased has brought her into a place where she can't see past her label of the Beast. Even after she gets her make-over and a boyfriend that she loves, she still can't help but label herself that way. It only sinks deeper when she finds out that she can't have kids without high risk of miscarriage or severe disability due to a genetic disorder. But through singing, Morrison shows her readers that Beth is still strong. Despite her flaws and her self-esteem issues, Beth is pictured as a girl that can overcome things. It makes her well-rounded, and readers will sympathize with her easily.
Derek isn't as great as Beth. I liked how he was written and I was enamored with him for a good portion of the book, but as a reader I knew there were parts that I was supposed to question him. His secrecy involving Beth as well as his abstinence from sex - which was not founded on belief - made things odd, and it caused a rift between whether or not Beth should stick with Derek or date Scott, whom she also has strong feelings for. The relationship dynamics between Derek and Beth and Beth and Scott are really well done, and they show Morrison's strengths in writing romances.
Sophomore novels have a tendency to end up less-than-stellar because readers don't get the same zing as they did from the debut. Angela's prose is just as solid and fluid as it was in Taken by Storm. The more narrative-centered story as opposed to Storm's mash-up of chatrooms, poems, and dive logs is easier to follow, but one notices the lulls in the story a little more because of it. Angela's poems scattered throughout the narrative are just as lyrical and well-done, and I enjoyed reading them a lot. Even though I'm not normally one for poetry.
Sing Me to Sleep was another hit from Angela Morrison. Like Taken by Storm, the romance was lovely and filled with equal amounts of hardship and tender moments. Beth is a character that readers will love, and the love triangle between her, Scott, and Derek is one of the best one's I've read in a while. Some parts are a little slow, but it's a great showcase of her consistency and talent as an author.
Cover Comments: I LOVE this cover. Hand holding covers are big for some reason. The snow filled, blurry atmosphere really fits the book well.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Copy: Received from Angela herself (Signed, too! Thanks Angela!!)