Its story may be seasonal. It’s message is eternal . . .
Paper Angels – it’s a book, it’s a story, it’s a program and it’s so much more.
The book is a collaboration of lives, stories and artists. The story is about fear, anger, blame, faith, love and kindness and the myriad of ways those emotions surface and hide. The Program is the Salvation Army’s seasonal mission to provide assistance to families in need at Christmastime. And together they create a heartwarming story sure to enlighten, enrich and effect you.
It’s an effect Jimmy Wayne hopes stays with you the way it stayed with him and inspires you to do something the way it has inspired him to do something. And we’re not merely talking about the fictional story within the pages of Paper Angels. We’re talking about the real life story that was the foundation of the fictional re-creation of a life Jimmy and his family lived. A life riddled with hardship, violence and poverty. And a life touched by the generosity of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. A life that left Jimmy not selfish, victimized and wounded, but grateful and inspired to give back by continuing to bring awareness to the Angel Tree Program. A life that has created a story he hopes inspires you to sponsor and make a difference in the life of a child one paper angel at a time.
Released by Howard Books/Simon & Schuster on November 1, 2011, Paper Angels is truly a timeless tale. The novel marks Jimmy Wayne’s debut as a book author and was written in collaboration with best selling author Travis Thrasher. Both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, the plot wraps around Kevin, a businessman on the verge of losing everything in his upscale life while adding twins to his suburban family of three and Thomas, a 15-year old struggling to survive the aftermath of a broken home, an alcoholic father, and his youth on the edge of disaster. It’s about how their paths cross and touch each other without ever having met.
Yet there are also so many sub-stories entwined in its telling that Paper Angels truly is a story of effecting change through kindness. You will experience physiological changes as you metaphorically wait in the back seat with Thomas and Sara for their mom to make the run for their life wondering if she will successfully exit the front door or their drunken father will beat her to it and angrily intercept their exodus.
You will shiver with empathy as Lynn Brandt (the mother) shares how “it had taken everything in her to go the Salvation Army to sign up for their Angel Tree program … the place that produced all those men and women ringing bells and asking for donations. The people who came up with the idea to put Christmas trees up in public places for kids who wouldn’t be receiving presents under their own tree at home.”
And you will hold your breath, hit your knees and unsuccessfully attempt to hold back tears when Lynn belches out in pain upon hearing her son Thomas was a Forgotten Angel, a name not having been chosen, but “because of the generosity of so many would receive a Forgotten Angel gift.” The reality of these children’s lives hits you hard as this enraged mother squeals in parental pain “I don’t want some presents. I want the ones he asked for. That’s how it works, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work! Isn’t it?” You’ll walk dazed with her as she succumbs to reality and leaves the warehouse with the red bag full of presents for Sara pleading, “God, Why? Why Thomas? Why Now?”
And you will be completely effected by the unexpected ending … that’s all I’ll say – brace yourself !
I was shaking so bad by the end of this story that I couldn’t speak. I closed the book, swallowed hard and wondered who the hell I thought I was to ever complain. This story hits you like a bucket of ice water in the face, stings like a shot of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee No. 10, and shocks you with its oh-so-simple revelation … faith, love and hope can move mountains – “and the greatest is love”.
A Story That’s Been Germinating for Years . . .
Jimmy Wayne is no newcomer to the art of storytelling and collaboration. For years Jimmy’s been collaborating with the music industry, creating songs, videos and awareness about the true stories behind them all. He’s also no newcomer to voicing his ongoing support of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, a program he himself was a recipient of. He originally shared this sentiment in the “Paper Angels” track off his debut album. And since then Jimmy has endeavored to keep bringing awareness to the Angel Tree Program in his newly released first book “Paper Angels” (Howard Books/Simon & Schuster). Jimmy’s been featured on media outlets such as ABC World News Now, NBC News, People Magazine, the 700 Club, Crook & Chase, Better TV and more discussing not just the recently released fictional story based on his personal experience but the enormity of what the book endeavors to focus on, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.
“When my sister and I were kids, we were represented by two of those little paper angels hanging on the Salvation Army Christmas tree,” Jimmy said. “Our family was going through a really tough time, and had it not been for the Salvation Army and the people who selected our paper angels, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas. I have never forgotten that and to this day I am still grateful for the generous hearts who take care of these kids at Christmas.”
This country music singer-songwriter, recording artist and philanthropist is well known for his heartfelt tales in his Top 10 hits “Stay Gone” and “I Love You This Much” and his Top 20 Hits “You Are” and “Paper Angels” all from his 2003 self-titled debut album. And it was by way of that debut album that I came to know Jimmy Wayne and his dedication to the Angel Tree Program.
I had the honor of meeting Jimmy back in 2004 during a “Paper Angels” event at Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, MA. The event sponsored a toy drive and Jimmy hung around afterwards to take pictures and give autographs. Fans of Jimmy’s had made beautiful paper angels adorned with gold ribbon and bells. I had a front row seat and was a lucky recipient of one of these angels. We held them up during Jimmy’s “Paper Angels” performance. It was quite moving. I still have that paper angel. At first I would take it out and put it away each year with my Christmas decorations. Then I decided to leave it hanging in my office to remind me of life’s struggles, possibilities, and “abilities” to help others.
And that’s the effect Jimmy is hoping his collaborative efforts with best-selling author Travis Thrasher will have on you after reading Paper Angels.
Pay it Forward Doesn’t Stop There for Jimmy . . .
Continuing to bring awareness to the Angel Tree Program through his Paper Angels endeavors is only one of the ways Jimmy Wayne takes what he’s been given and pays it forward. If he can be from that place and get where he is through the small acts of kindness from people Jimmy met traveling down his road of life then that’s a pretty powerful message for all of us to grasp. And it’s a message Jimmy put in further motion in 2010 when he created and literally took to the streets with his Project Meet Me Halfway, a solo 1700 mile, 7-month trek halfway across America to raise awareness for at risk foster children who age out of the system with no where to go – a position Wayne himself is all too familiar with. That Project Meet Me Halfway (www.projectmmh.org) walk started out in Nashville, TN January 1, 2010 and ended in Phoenix, AZ on August 1, 2010. And while Wayne’s “walk” has ended, it’s purpose has just begun to make a difference in the lives of these youths.
And so has Jimmy. In between Paper Angels, Project Meet Me Halfway, touring and songwriting, Wayne found time to commit to yet another program for children and became a National Spokesperson for CASA for Children.
And because he’s been given a celebrity stage, mic and audience to reach out to for support, he makes sure to pay it forward there, too. Jimmy has completed writing and recording a new CD. Music from the new recording will be released in 2012, and was inspired by the people he met and places he saw during his 1700 mile walk across America. I along with his fans look forward to hearing this and the heartfelt stories it contains and the way Jimmy tells them in song.
Don’t Wait til Next Year . . .
Paper Angels is indeed a seasonal story with an eternal message. Don’t wait until next year to do your part. Start by looking around your own vicinity and reaching out to children in need. Purchase a copy of Paper Angels and make its message and program not only part of your Christmas giving but part of your life. Paper Angels is so much more than a story about the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. It’s a story about what its character Thomas prayed for … “to make a difference”. Start today and make a difference in a child’s life then continue to keep your eyes open for opportunities to touch a child and a life.
God Bless Jimmy Wayne for taking such sensitive and personal struggles and sharing (publishing) them for the world to see how simple acts of kindness do indeed help. God Bless everyone out there who’s ever given to the Angel Tree Program, a Giving Tree at work or at your church. This is the effect your kindness has had.
Make Paper Angels – the book, the story and the program – a part of your holiday traditions and your everyday life.
Merry CHRISTmas to ALL … and to ALL a Good Life !
Take a moment to watch the two videos below. One is of the Angel Tree Bag & Tag Program in action from Nashville, TN. And the other is Jimmy talking about “Paper Angels”, the book, the program, the recipients and the foster care system they age out of. Both videos come not from research but from a place of experience in Jimmy Wayne’s life.
JIMMY WAYNE – “ANGEL TREE PROGRAM” IN ACTION
JIMMY WAYNE – National Television Discussing “Paper Angels” and its Foster Care Recipients
Book Review Originally Published on December 21, 2011 at Christine McDonald, Author Archive – Country Music Pride