Edited EDITORIAL LETTER
Hemingway, Three Angels, and Me, by Jerome Mark Antil
Hemingway, Three Angels, and Me tells the unique story of a boy who witnesses the prejudice of the Jim Crow era firsthand and then enlists his friends, family members, and neighbors to help Anna Kristina, one victim of that prejudice. The themes of the novel, including racial prejudice, cultural differences, coming of age, and the effects of war, will resonate with modern readers, both young and old. The moral of this story—that it is never too late to make a difference in other people’s lives—is neatly summarized in the epilogue, yet the novel never feels “preachy.” There aren’t any unanswered questions in the novel, and the readers will feel satisfied by the ending.
The novel is generally well structured, and the plot moves at a good pace. The chapter breaks seem deliberate and work well within the novel, often creating a sense of suspense without interrupting the action. In a slightly different vein, the references to the holidays (specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas) serve to make the time frame of the story very clear.
The structure of the novel is fairly typical for the genre. The structure of the novel supports the story. In particular, the structure supports Jerry’s telling of the story: it allows him to really reflect on events and memories but also to tell his story in an engaging way. The amount of introspection he offers works well for the genre and is smoothly integrated into the dialogue and the action.
The first chapter of the novel does a good job of drawing the readers in; it immediately establishes the character of Jerry, offers a bit of historical context, and makes clear the setting of the novel. It’s also rather intriguing, and I was particularly curious about the reference to guardian angels.
I really enjoyed the ending of the novel and felt that all the loose ends had been tied up. In fact, the plot of the novel generally makes a lot of sense. The story does seem reminiscent of Hemingway’s work.
Point of View
It is a good idea to tell this story through the protagonist’s first-person point of view, a choice that many authors of young-adult fiction make. It gives Jerry the chance to “talk” to the readers, to explain the events as he saw them, and to offer his interpretation of the events years after they happened.
The characters are both likable and relatable, which is especially important in a novel likely to be read by young adults. The characters all serve a purpose and play an important role in the development of the action. However, there are a lot of children in the novel, and while some of them have a distinct personality (Marty is smart, and Jimmy Conway loves his tractor, for example) some of them—in particular, the older boys—seem to blend together.
Jerry’s trip to the South at the beginning of the novel expands his world view, opens his mind to other cultures, and causes him to mature. At the end of the novel, he is still the same likable, honest, kind Jerry, but he is also more committed than ever to helping other people. The readers will enjoy watching him develop and become a more world-wise young man.
Tone and Style
The tone and style of the novel generally work well. The dialect used in dialogue and sometimes in running text matches the characters’ personalities and makes sense, given the rural setting of the novel.
The dialogue of the novel is well written, and the characters’ voices and speech match their experiences and their circumstances. The characters’ voices are sufficiently different—for example, it’s clear that some of the characters have received more education than others—and are presented fairly consistently throughout.
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