Garbage Angel: Sarah’s Story purports to be the story of Sarah McPhee, a teenager driven by divine inspiration to start an ecology club with heavy spiritual overtones.
In practice, it’s a record of author Clyde White’s spiritual meditations, distilled and rewritten to be the voice of Sarah’s angelic guide, Spook. These include such revolutionary concepts as “There is much value in all of your experiences,” “you are created in the image of God” and “life is a learning experience.” Spook’s divine insight does not benefit from his constant insistence that it is all really truly true, or the multiple scenes where Sarah and others spend paragraphs musing on how perceptive and deep Spook’s words are.
Oh, there’s a plot too, a thin rushed thing about Sarah’s instant ecology club, acted out by Sarah, her adoring friends, a couple of requisite cardboard villains and tintype authorities, and a herd of faceless, obliging teenage followers happy to go wherever Sarah’s visions point them. Given the extreme gullibility of Sarah’s townspeople, all of them unquestioningly devoted to one or another vague spiritual leader, White almost creates an eerie fantasy commentary on the role of belief. Sadly, his own unquestioning belief in the importance of his--excuse me, Spook’s-- message prevents him from noticing the dehumanizing effects of it in his own characters.
Clyde White admits in his author’s note that there are “aisles of books” available to help people get in touch with their spiritual side. Given that, it’s hard to see why he felt the need to add another. If you’ve never read the Desiderata and your knowledge of environmental issues comes from Smokey the Bear, Garbage Angel might come as a revelation. But if you’ve gotten as far as junior high yourself, you’d do better to peruse those aisles of books mentioned in the author’s note.