In June, Theresa Linden’s book Battle for His Soul won first place in the CPA Book Awards for the teen/young adult category. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading this third book in the West Brothers series.
Title: Battle for His Soul
Author: Theresa Linden
Genre: contemporary fiction
Age group: young adult
Summary: Jarret West is tired of his two brothers. His twin Keefe has had some sort of religious conversion, and his younger brother Roland is clearly his father’s pet who never gets in trouble and always gets what he wants. Jarret’s guardian angel, Ellechial, is frustrated. He wants to help Jarret avoid the temptations of the demon who is haunting him, but without prayers, Ellechial doesn’t have the powers, armor, or sword to do much. Thankfully, some of Roland’s friends have recently formed a prayer group. Their prayers are going to be needed as Jarret’s dad has just brought him and Roland on a trip to Arizona where the temptations are about to increase.
As I mentioned, this is the third book in the West Brothers series. Last year, I reviewed the second book Life-Changing Love. While the books can be read as stand alones, I’d recommend reading them in order so that you can see the spiritual development of the three brothers progress chronologically.
This is the only one, however, where we get chapters written from the perspectives of the characters’ guardian angels. It’s a neat twist in the series and provides the reader with a look into the spiritual warfare that goes on around us all the time.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the description of the prayer group during Adoration. One of the more powerful angels has ensnared some lesser demons. When the priest brings out the monstrance, the captured demons start to groan. Their captor insists, “Every knee will bend,” and even the demons are forced down before the Lord as the tabernacle door opens. They moan and beg, “Don’t make us look upon . . . Him” while the angels sings glorious songs of praise. This description of what happens on a supernatural level during Eucharistic Adoration will probably forever change the way I experience it.
I wanted to bring up one misconception held by the main character Jarret. Toward the end, he begins to wonder if God really exists. He says, “Atheists had a few good theories, the Big Bang and evolution and all.” This is a common misconception that a lot of non-Catholics have. They think Catholics don’t “believe” in evolution. Neither the Big Bang Theory nor evolution are contrary to the teachings of the Church. In fact, the Big Bang Theory was first proposed by a Catholic priest, Fr. George Lemaître, who studied astronomy at the University of Cambridge and later earned a Ph.D. at MIT. (You can read more about it here and here).
Some people think faith and science is incompatible, but this is simply not true. In June, I had the pleasure of meeting Brother Guy Consolmagno, the director of the Vatican Observatory, a very funny and learned man who knows a great deal about astrophysics and (to my great delight!) young adult literature. We were both speaking at a writing conference. I was on the YA authors panel, and he was on the science writing panel. I loved what Bro. Guy had to say about pursuing a career in the sciences and being a man of faith. I wish I could remember his words exactly, but the general idea was that by pursuing science, he was pursuing God. When you study creation, you inevitably find the creator.
Perhaps in the fourth installment of the West Brothers story (due out later this fall), we’ll see some more characters make this connection between the beauty of the world around us and our creator.