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Angels on the Roof

Angels on the Roof

4.7 4
by Martha A. Moore

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Fourteen-year-old Shelby cannot understand why her mother, Zoe, is constantly packing them up and moving. Now that they've lived in the city for a year and Shelby even has a best friend, she's determined to stay put. She's tired of being at the mercy of her mother's strange moods and sudden whims. And she's tired of Zoe's evasions, especially on the subject of Shelby


Fourteen-year-old Shelby cannot understand why her mother, Zoe, is constantly packing them up and moving. Now that they've lived in the city for a year and Shelby even has a best friend, she's determined to stay put. She's tired of being at the mercy of her mother's strange moods and sudden whims. And she's tired of Zoe's evasions, especially on the subject of Shelby's father. When Shelby finds some concrete evidence of his existence—old photographs with a man's head carefully cut out—she determines to confront her mother. But before she has the chance, Zoe announces that they're taking a trip to Red Valley, where she used to live. Shelby hopes she can find some answers there and leave quickly. But Red Valley turns out to have a strange hold on Zoe, and Shelby discovers that some questions might be better left alone.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
A "great" collection of Banks's short stories, including eight new ones, plus an introduction by the author discussing how he chose the stories and his thoughts on his earlier works. "Truly entertaining. Banks's style is clean and imaginative, and he brings his characters up close and personal."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This well crafted drama about an "At Risk" ninth grader and her eccentric single mother provides a fertile field of images, ideas and psychological profiles for readers to explore. Teenaged Shelby, who has moved a dozen or so times, is tired of following the crazy whims of her mother, Zoe, "a single mom with a string of used boyfriends." Now they're ready to hit the road again, this time to visit Zoe's foster mother, Aunt Onie, "a hundred-year-old-lady who lives in the middle of a cow pasture." Returning to her birthplace in Red Valley, Shelby hopes, at least, to dredge up some information about her "nonexistent" father, but piecing together fragments from the past brings pain as well as enlightenment. Moore's (Under the Mermaid Angel) down-to-earth prose is heightened by an intriguing network of symbols and allusions pertaining to the artist Georgia O'Keeffe (whom Shelby's mother idolizes). The author's eye for detail accentuates the eccentricities of her cast of characters (as in this example of Shelby describing a drugstore clerk, "The first thing I noticed was her hair. It was pale pink and whipped on top of her head like a Dairy Queen ice-cream cone") and draws attention to particular artifacts (a flat roof top, a silver belt buckle, Christmas ornaments) which carry special significance. Through Shelby's first-person narrative, readers uncover her deep-seated family secrets and are led to a startling conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Jennifer Fakolt
Spectral, floating cow pelvises and platter-sized poppies may not be Shelby's idea of fine art, but Georgia O'Keeffe is just the latest in a long line of obsessions pursued by Shelby's waif-like mother, Zoe. Ultimately, it is O'Keeffe who leads mother and daughter on a pilgrimage of self-awareness and understanding. At fourteen, Shelby qualifies as an "at-risk" student in school, not because of poor grades, but because she (a) comes from a broken home and (b) is on the free lunch program. All Shelby wants to do is finish her ninth-grade year in one place and get some answers about her absent father. When she finds a box of photographs with her father's face cut out of every one, her anxiety mounts. Zoe, however, refuses to speak of him. Shelby endures her mother's restlessness and short-lived attempts at self-discovery with practical resignation, but she is outraged when Zoe announces that O'Keeffe appeared to her in a dream, signifying that they must take a trip to Red Valley, Texas, to visit an old foster parent of Zoe's. Shelby, furious, hopes that the journey will provide the answers she has been longing for. The small town of Red Valley is filled with good-hearted, eccentric characters, from Teena, the drugstore waitress with pink, Dairy Queen hair, to Annabelle, the Cat Lady whose felines are named after Shakespearean heroines. Not the least odd is Aunt Onie, Zoe's foster parent who also is a carver, "releasing" images from wood. Shelby is resistant to the town and its people, but gradually makes friends with Reese, a cowboy near her own age, and comes to appreciate the comfortable ties of the community. Slowly, the truth about Shelby's abusive father is revealed, as are the reasons for Zoe's incessant need to relocate. Shelby gives her mother one last chance to take responsibility and prove her love, and Zoe rises like an angel to the occasion. Shelby, similar to one of Aunt Onie's carvings, begins to emerge from her protective shell and learns that love can heal and forgive. She is a likeable character, whose insecurities and desires for truth and affection will be easily related to by teens. The supporting characters are a celebration of the kind-hearted absurdities of ordinary people. Moore's writing is a pleasure, filled with gentle ironies, whimsy, and honesty. While not as poignant as her first novel, Under the Mermaid Angel (Laurel Leaf, 1997/VOYA December 1995), this is a nicely crafted, sensitive story of a girl's coming of age. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
The ALAN Review - John H. Bushman
Fourteen-year-old Shelby wants desperately to know about her father even though her mother has no intention of telling her. Over the years, Shelby's mother has dreams that call her to travel, much to the disgust of Shelby. They have lived in many small towns but none so important as their current address: Red Valley, Texas, Here Shelby meets a variety of people-some relatives, some not. But more important, Shelby begins to learn about her father-a finding that will disturb most readers. Moore's strength in this novel is the superb characterization. We meet the cat lady, the waitress with pink Dairy Queen hair, Baby Superman, and Aunt Onie, who wears knee-high support hose even with shorts. Moore explores the complexities of the human heart in a story that is witty and, perhaps more importantly, compassionate.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10Shelby knows that she is smart in spite of being labeled by her school as "at risk." She can't understand why her mother moves around so much, and she is determined to finish the ninth grade in one place. She asks about her father but is provided with vague and unsatisfying answers. When her mother decides to take a frantic trip to her childhood home of Red Valley, Texas, simply because Georgia O'Keeffe has appeared to her in a dream, Shelby resists, but with no effect. In this dramatic, sparse landscape, she finds a traumatic piece of her past. As in Under the Mermaid Angel (Delacorte, 1995), Moore explores human relationships lost, found, and unusual. Once again, she draws some very eccentric characters: Teena, a pink-haired would-be singer, is entertaining; Aunt Onie, an ancient earth-mother type who believes that angels on her roof signal lost children to come her way, is interesting; and Shelby, the likable narrator, provides some wonderfully ironic send-ups. But a cowboy love interest and a drama teacher seem to be thrown in to prove that not all males are brutal and that normal people can live in an isolated environment. There are clumsy attempts at symbolism and at least one plot digression. Most troubling is the mother's habit of continually letting Shelby down and then unrealistically reversing her behavior at the novel's end. At times a fascinating read, but a mixed bag, lacking the unity and magic of Moore's earlier book.Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Kirkus Reviews
From Shelby's point of view, her mother Zoe is impossible: She's uprooted them so many times Shelby has lost count, and develops temporary obsessions, like decorating the living room with pages from a Georgia O'Keeffe calendar. Worst of all, she will not speak about Shelby's father. Then Zoe, after a dream, takes Shelby to Red Valley, where Zoe's foster mother, Aunt Onie, lives. Shelby resists and resents the trip, but in odd Aunt Onie's peculiar house and among her derelict possessions, she finds some long-buried truths. Moore (Under the Mermaid Angel, 1995, etc.) does a remarkable job of capturing a ninth-grader's aversion to her mother's seemingly capricious ways; readers don't see the method in Zoe's madness until the final, painful revelations in the last chapter. Aunt Onie's bird carvings and her personal memories of "Miss O'Keeffe" figure prominently in the narrative, which captures the desolation and beauty of the Texas landscape. A strong story, whose outwardly fragile protagonists possess reserves of steel to carry them through to the end.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.61(h) x 0.82(d)
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Angels on the Roof 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this peice of work was amazingly incredable and i read it with in 1 day even less. It inspierd me with its creativity and spunk of descriptions leading in a normal life story. I think that this book would be obtained as a 5 star***** book. I take all the greatest concerns and comments to the author for her story of Shelby and her poor hopeless mother in the 5 star reveiw of "Angels on the roof" When i picked up this book it gave me a feeling that it was going to be really incredable. I give a great job to the illustrator for her remarkably great effort on the front page of the book with all the colours and hard art work that was probelly put into this book. All i can say is i hope there is a continuing of the following book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding. It show's true love. And it also very mysterious.Yes, she tries to solve the mysterie, but in the end a heart true secret will be revealed, and only love can give comfort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. It grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading until the book is over. This book really shows how you may not see it, but people really in ways can be your 'angels'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the novel by Martha Moore titled Angels on the Roof. I thought that this novel was an excellent one. It was very entertaining and it kept my attention the entire way through. In fact I read the entire book in three days, which doesn¿t happen very often for me. This book was about a fourteen year old girl named Shelby. She lives with her mother, and has never known her father. She has moved many times through out her life time with her mother. Shelby wants her mother to settle down, and just when she thinks she has, her mother talks about moving to New Mexico. Shelby doesn¿t want to move anymore though. She wants to stay where she is and have what she calls a ¿normal teenage¿ life. Now Shelby¿s mom is not the ordinary mother. She arranges flowers for different occasions as her occupation and is always obsessing with something or somebody. Through out the book, her mother talks of a famous artist and even starts to dress like her. Though Shelby has many questions about her father, her mother never answers them. Then one day Shelby is looking for a flashlight in her mother¿s bedroom when she comes to discover a picture that haunts her. It is of her mother and father only her father¿s head is cut out of the photograph. The flashlight Shelby was searching for was to use when she went to the beach over spring break with her best friend Roo. The day she is supposed to leave, her mother announces that they are going to Red Valley instead. Though she doesn¿t want to go to Red Valley, she ends up finding out important information that can lean to answering her life long questions. The detail, imagery, and language used in this book were excellent. These aspects of literature that were used really added to the book. It made it the book much more interesting and it kept my attention. This is one the best books I have read in a long time. It had a great plot and the ending was really well done. I have never read a book by this author, but now that I have, I intend on reading more books by Martha Moore. I hope that the next book I read is as well written as this one.