Garden of Angels

Garden of Angels

4.8 66
by Lurlene McDaniel

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It is 1974 and the country is still struggling to come to terms with the Vietnam War. In the small town of Conners, Georgia, Darcy has just started high school, her older sister Adel goes to weekend dances at the local Army base, and their mother tends her beautiful garden–the biggest and best in town. But Darcy’s world is soon changed forever when her

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It is 1974 and the country is still struggling to come to terms with the Vietnam War. In the small town of Conners, Georgia, Darcy has just started high school, her older sister Adel goes to weekend dances at the local Army base, and their mother tends her beautiful garden–the biggest and best in town. But Darcy’s world is soon changed forever when her mother goes to Atlanta for tests. The diagnosis is not good–breast cancer. There is so much Darcy wants to talk to her mother about: the war and what happened to the soldiers who were there; the feelings she is having for the new (and troubled) boy in school. But she can’t. So she finds solace in her mother’s garden. There she can help the flowers her mother planted bloom.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 7.14(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt


September 1974

“We walking home together?” Becky Sue asked me as I rummaged through my locker on Friday afternoon. We had just finished up our first week of school and I was in a hurry to go.

“Only if we leave right now,” I told her, slamming my locker door.

“What’s the rush?” Becky eyed my stack of books. “How much homework have you got, anyway?”

Last year’s testing had put me into accelerated classes, Conners’ college prep program. It meant a lot more book work for me. Yet I was glad to be among about twenty in our entire school to be selected for the newly created mix of high-scoring students. I realized that it had fallen to me to do what no female in our family before me had done: go to college.

I said, “Two papers due Monday, plus a current events report for government class. Mr. Kessler wants weekly written reports about current events. He also wants everyone in his class to do a project before the end of the year.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Don’t know. Maybe something about Vietnam because there’s lots of material about it.”

“He lost a son in Vietnam. Remember? We were in fourth grade.”

“I remember.” Mama and Papa had gone to Jeb Kessler’s funeral and to the funerals of three other young men from Conners in the following two years. “I just have to think of a good angle,” I told Becky Sue. “I want an A.”

Becky took two of my books and settled them onto her smaller stack. We walked out of the building together and the September heat hit me like a volleyball slammed over the net. The locals called it Indian summer. I just called it hot. The sidewalk in front of our school swarmed with kids. First graders were lined up waiting for cars to pick them up. Conners only had one school bus and it did triple duty, taking elementary kids home first, then middle-schoolers, and finally high-schoolers. I lived about six blocks from the school and Becky Sue lived two blocks farther, so we never had to ride the bus. We’d walked to and from school together ever since we were nine years old.

“Can you come to Byron’s with me tomorrow?” Becky asked. “I’m going to buy Mom a birthday present.”

Byron’s was Conners’ only department store. Short of going to Atlanta, sixty-five miles north, it was the only place to shop in our town. “I reckon,” I said. “Papa’s driving Mama to Atlanta tomorrow for an appointment at Emory Hospital, so I can’t leave until after they’re gone.”

“All the way to Emory? What’s wrong with Dr. Keller?”

“She’s already been to Dr. Keller and he wants her to go to Emory for some tests.”

“What kind of tests?”

I shrugged. “They didn’t say. That puts me and Adel at the house together alone, so as you can imagine, I don’t want to hang around with my sister all day. Maybe we can go to the movies after you buy your mom’s present.”

Two squirrels jabbered at us from overhead tree branches as we walked.

“Is Adel still going to those weekend get-togethers at the army base?”

“Hasn’t missed a weekend in the past seven,” I said. The training base was just outside Atlanta and was full of young soldiers, but that was about all I knew about it. That and the fact that my sister and her best friend, Sandy, drove there once a week for Red Cross–sponsored gatherings with lonely servicemen. Adel had assured our parents that there was plenty of supervision and that everything was conducted in an upright and proper manner.

There were five years and a whole lot of differences between Adel and me. Ever since her graduation, she’d been working at Papa’s bank. Well, Conners Community Bank didn’t really belong to my father, but he was responsible for running the place. He’d hired Adel for training as a teller right after she graduated from high school because it was a known fact that while my sister was beautiful, she wasn’t college material.

“Bet she’s got herself a boyfriend at the base,” Becky said.

“Bet you’re right. I mean, what would she do without a boyfriend to worship and adore her?”

We laughed about my sister’s popularity. At school she’d been Queen of Everything and had left a string of brokenhearted boys behind her when she hadn’t agreed to marry any of them. “I don’t plan to stay in Conners,” she’d told everyone. “I want to see the whole wide world.” But to me it looked like Conners was where she’d always be. I, of course, was planning on staying in our hometown forever. I loved Conners.

A car full of boys drove past us. The driver honked the horn. J. T. Rucker, a junior and one of our high school’s top football players, leaned out the window. “Hey, Boney Maroney! How’s your sister? She ready for a real man?”

I felt my face flush. “You know any?” I yelled back.

“Come over here, Darcy. I’ll show you my manhood.”

“Get lost, you creep!”

He slapped the side of the car hard, making me jump; he laughed and the car drove off. “I really hate that guy!” I said to Becky.

“Don’t judge all boys by J.T. Take Russell Danby, for instance. Don’t you think he’s cute?”

We’d known Russell since first grade and I’d never thought he was cute. “When did you start thinking Russell was cute?” I asked.

“Ever since third period when I dropped my pencil and he picked it up for me. When our fingers touched, I got a physical shock. I’m telling you, it went right through me. It was like I was seeing him for the first time. My heart went thump-thump and I knew he was the one I wanted.”

I decided not to mention static electricity. Becky Sue was my best friend. She liked a different boy every year. She’d write his name on her notebook cover and go all flirty every time she got within ten feet of him. “So your heart thumped—that’s a dead giveaway if I ever heard one.”

“One day you’re going to fall like a rock for some boy and I can’t wait until it happens. Then you’ll see what it feels like and you won’t be so skeptical of others’ emotions,” Becky lectured.

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Garden of Angels 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
MommyBeegs More than 1 year ago
I love this book because it is raw, honest, realistic, and very very tear-jerking and heart-warming. I first read it when I was 13 and I read it at least once a year even still now that I am 20. I have never known anyone with breast cancer, and it still had many great lessons to learn from, and emotional moments I could relate to. I recommend it to anyone age 12 and up :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in high school but I loved every bit of it. Such a great story.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Garden of Angels helped me when my mom got breast cancer. I went to the library and found several books people had recomended for me to read. But for some reason this book just seemed to stick and to help. Her books are about real problems that happen to people who dont deserve them. This book was insperational to me and it gave me hope that in the end no matter what happened everything would end up the way it was supossed to. I recomend this book because its there for everyone. If you need support then this book is for you. And if you just need a book to read. Its good for that to.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
At school i needed a book to read for a huge part of my language arts grade and i chose this book and i thought i was going to hate it, JUST THE OPPOSITE!!!! this is one of my favorite books in the whole world (even though i cried, that might also be because i am SUPER emotional)!! you MUST read this AT ONCE!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best. I love the author, Lurlene McDaniel. She writes awesome novels. Garden of Angels is inspirational and sad but has hope. You will not regret reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lurlene McDaniel is awsome i love reading her books over and over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Garden of Angels is a sad story that is set in Connors, Georgia. The Quinlin family is just like any ordinary family until Joy, the mother, goes to Emory in Atlanta for breast cancer testing. The Quinlin¿s life changes immediately when they find out that the test is positive. Darcy and Adel, Joy¿s daughters, are frightened and have a lot more going on than usual. While Joy is sick, Darcy cares for her mother¿s garden and she realizes that angels really are in it. Will Joy make it through the beast cancer and what will happen to Adel and Darcy¿s lives? The best parts of this book was the beginning when Joy was diagnosed with breast cancer because it was sad and made you think about what if that happened in my life. When Jason, a troubled kid from Chicago , moves in to the tiny town of Connors it throws an unexpected twist on the story. My all time favorite part was that it was a sad story so it made me cry at some parts and smile at others. Some criticism of the book is that Joy was diagnosed with cancer too early in the story and I did not really get to know the character before that happened. The title does not really fit the book that much because a garden is not the main part of the book. Some parts that were supposed to seem sad did not really come out that way at all and that made me confused on how it was supposed to sound. Some things that you probably didn¿t know about Garden of Angels is that this book is not part of a series but Lurlene McDaniel has written many books that have the same idea. This book reminds me of another one of her books called The Girl Death Left Behind because in both of these books a young girl is face with a hard experience that she can not deal with by herself and can not do anything about it. The kind of people that should read this is girls from age twelve and older who are not afraid to cry would like this book, but this is not really for guys unless they like to cry. Lurlene McDaniel is similar to Melody Carlson because they both write realistic fiction and have stories where a daughter is faced with some hard dilemma that she can not solve. If you ever feel like you need a good cry over a story then read Lurlene McDaniel¿s books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
okay, everyone. this is a must-read. you haven't read until you've read garden of angels. i know this sounds weird, but this is such a beautiful book. i mean, it teaches you about a girl's struggles when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, and when her sister leaves the house. and you just can't believe that all of this is happening to one girl. i connect with her feelings at times, but then other times i was like, wow. i never thought about this. it made me cry sooooooo much, guys. you just have to read this book!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many stories about many different cancers and hard times that a family must go through, yet I have never really felt the connection as I did in this wonderful story. My own Mom had Breast Cancer and I know what Darcy was going threw. I don't usually cry when I'm reading a sad book or watching a sad movie, but I remember while I was reading this story I cried and I was in class! A bit embarrassing if you had been in my shoes at that time. People thought i was having some kind of breakdown and started trying to 'comfort me'. But I must say again, that this is a great story and would tell anyone who asked me about the book that they should just read it and that I'm almost completely sure that they will enjoy it. I know that I am young and that some books are to difficult to understand the true meaning of them, but I have read many books that were meant for high school students and many that are above high school. I truly enjoy reading and I really did enjoy this story. All in all, this is one of my top ten favorite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read! I love how the family supports each other and is a good Christian family! There were parts in this book that were so good I cried! I wish there were more books like this in the world!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was actually very good. I just happened to come across it when going through the library shelves and figured I was going to read it, randomly. Because I'm a big reader, I like to read a variety of things. Anyways, I started to read it and I couldn't get enough of it. The book was full of heart-warming actions and it made an impact. I like how historical fiction is played in the book. Darcy gains love (with 17 year old Jason), but loses a loved one. It is truly a good novel. I would totally recommend it if you're looking for a calm, but suspensful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These book was really good. It's my favorite book now. I never thought I would read a outstanding book like these. It's about this 14 year old girl that has a sick mother and her sister fell in love and she is starting to fall in love with jason, a trouble maker. Her mother has breast cancer and is dieing from it and her sister gets married to a guy who is the army. If u want to know more u have to get the book I recommened u to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sadest part of this book is when adels daughter never gets to let her mother see her baby because she has passed away and when the narrator has to give her mother morphine to stop the pain and also when the mother passes away and i started to cry. I wish Jason and her would of got married they seemed like they were the perfect match and i wish that adels husband wouldnt of got injured in war.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my favorite books ever. Lurlene writes so well and you feel as if you know the character. The book is so well written. Even though you know what is going to happen, you still are surprised and cry anyways.