Title: Heroes By Design
Author: D.A. Irsik
Genre: Young Adult / Christian
A tale of friendship, faith, and perseverance takes center stage in Heroes by Design by D.A. Irsik. It follows the lives of Sela, Emily, and Zach–three friends who take pride in their Christian beliefs and the work they do in God’s name, until tragic circumstances test this belief and threaten to tear them apart.
This book deals with the heavy subjects of death and grieving, as well as the very personal journey each individual goes through when dealing with both. There were instances where the book ran the risk of being a touch too dramatic, and the zeal with which some of the characters approach religion and faith might appeal only to a very specific readership.
However, the author also brought a sense of realism and relevance to the story by making the book about the characters’ experiences rather than simply focusing on religious themes. Every teenager in the world will be able to relate to the feelings of insecurity and not being good enough, to the fear of standing out and being different, to the need to belong, and the desire to be seen.
With that said, there’s still a lot of Christian elements scattered throughout the book, but it is tempered by the author’s instinctual understanding that not everyone will be able to believe in angels and heavenly bodies. She tries to present these elements in a way that’s easier to swallow, even if a reader is a non-believer.
The author even injects a bit of humor and levity. The scenes where the guardian angels go undercover to help out the main characters, all while trying to navigate the “tween world,” provided some much needed comic relief and contrast to the very serious nature of the book. It could be quite a comfort to know that even heavenly beings quake in fear at the thought of understanding tween speak and the daily dramas of adolescence.
This book could benefit from tighter editing and proofreading. There were a some spelling errors and incomplete sentences throughout the book that took away from the reading experience. Some of the dialogue and internal monologues also felt a bit rushed, as if the author was more focused on moving the plot forward rather than ensuring that each scene and each conversation made an impact.
Heroes by Design is at its best when it goes back to its main aim, which is to deliver a story of optimism even during times of darkness. The idea that someone out there is looking out for you and that you’ll never be given more than what you can handle will bring comfort to those who read this book, especially if they’re going through an experience of their own.
This book is an inspirational coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on today’s important issues, with emphasis on understanding and tolerance. There is an overall tone of hope underpinning the plot, and good writing and an understanding of religion’s place in our evolving world makes the book stand out from other Christian books. It’s able to transcend boundaries of faith to simply tell a story of how one’s belief can get you through trials and difficulties.
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