by Sarah J. Schmitt
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.
I wasn’t expecting that we would spend so much time with RJ in the afterlife. I guess I was thinking she would be sent back right away. I liked how fleshed out “heaven” was, I kept thinking of it as being like an airport. You take a tram to the lobby where you are then given a “this is your life” presentation and then sent off for judgement. I liked how much personality the angels and particular characters had.
One thing that is so great about this book is the fact that RJ is a mean girl. Even though she’s a redeemable mean girl, it does not let her get away with things. I’m someone who was bullied and I’ve had people facebook friend request me and I think in my head really. What I think It’s a Wonderful Death does a good job showing is that RJ is mean. She knows she is mean and the things she does are not right but I don’t think she completely realizes how much her actions impact a person's life. Which can change that person in the future. When she relives the three moments in her life she starts to see what impact she really had.
RJ is as I said, the redeemable mean girl. I really didn’t dislike her, I did dislike her actions. When she first gets to the Afterlife she acts like a spoiled brat. However, when the spoiled brat part finally falls away she is still very confrontation and opinionated. I liked that her basic personality stays the same even when she sees the error of some her ways.
I really liked the plot and I did not predict the ending. I didn’t even try because it really felt like anything could happen. Will the things RJ changes be enough and will she be happy with the changes? Can she maintain them? There are some questions that need to be answered. There is also a little bit of a side story with another character that RJ meets in the Afterlife. I liked it and gave the book a little romance because there is no romance involved with RJ. The story isn’t about that it’s about RJ finding what her true purpose is. Plus there is also plenty of humor to keep sometimes heavy topics light.
I really liked It’s a Wonderful Death. You’ve got a unique story with some great development for the main character. It’s humorous and has no romance.
Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her debut novel, IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.