Unearthly by Cynthia Hand is a young adult novel about love, dealing with parental expectations, destiny and surviving the joys of high school. Clara is a sixteen year old that has to deal with a younger brother, her parent’s divorce, and trying to fit in. While most of her life is typical, she is not your average teen. Her mother is half angel, making her a quarter angel. This genetic twist means that she has some physical advantages, and a destiny to fulfill. Unfortunately, her destiny means leaving her friends behind so that she can fulfill the visions plaguing her. When I reached the end of the book, my only disappointment was that there was not more to read, as the two books promised to complete the trilogy Unearthly began are not yet written.
Clara has to deal with some of the same issues other teens do; boys, popularity and staying out of trouble. She even has the out of control hair that reminds me of my own, the kind of hair that seems to have a mind of its own. However, her parentage also means that she can understand and speak any language and must follow her visions of a forest fire to Wyoming to fulfill the destiny that seems to be demanding her attention through vision. Of course, moving to a new state and working her way into the life of the person she is going to have to save from a forest fire is not a walk in the park. There is a new student body to fit in with, a crush, new friends and other complications that no one could have predicted. Worse of all is that her mother, who Clara tells everything, is not returning the favor. This quickly becomes an issue when the unknown starts to play its role in the bigger picture.
In Unearthly, Clara grows as a person; becoming a better friend, more aware of what she wants and who she is rather than simply what she is supposed to do. She does not ignore what she needs to do, and seems to consider the larger picture, but learns to trust herself and her instincts. While some might shove this book in the paranormal category, it is also a coming of age story and simply a fantastic character driven story. The story, characters and twists that keep you intrigued are different from the other young adult books featuring angels, which have started to flourish lately. I recommend Unearthly to anyone that enjoys coming of age stories, romance, paranormal romance or angel stories. If you generally like one of these genres, but not others, I suggest reading Unearthly anyway because it is better than any one category and is simply a great novel.