Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt

Angel is reeling from her mother's death when she meets Call.  Her dad can't deal with his own grief, much less Angel, her grief, or her shoplifting.  At first, when Call gives her drugs, Angel loves how it feels to forget all the sadness and anger, and she's pretty sure she loves Call for giving her what she needs to forget.  Call gives her a place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear, all of it away from her dad and the memories of her mom that haunt her home.  Even her little brother Jeremy isn't enough to keep Angel home.  But when Call asks her to be nice to his friends, in repayment for everything he's give her, and Angel finds out what that means, she knows she can never go home again.

When Angel's friend Serena disappears, Angel knows she didn't run away - Serena kept her running away money under Angel's mattress, and it's still there.  Rumors of a serial killer run wild among the street workers, a man they call Mr. P who drives a van and picks up girls who never get out again.  The police don't believe it, calling the street girls unreliable liars, and neither does Call - but Serena isn't the first to vanish.  Angel vows to get clean and get off the streets, but it's harder than she thought.  And then Call brings home eleven-year-old Melli and something changes in Angel's heart.  Desperate to keep Melli from the life that is hers, Angel does everything she can to track down Melli's family while trying to keep the little girl safe from the streets - and from Call.  Can she save someone else, even if she's pretty sure it's too late to save herself?

Heartwrenching and sobering, this gritty novel-in-verse will break your heart and stitch it haphazardly back up again.  Set in Vancouver and based on real events, Martine Leavitt tells the story of a young girl lured into a street life she's sure she can't escape.  For older teens who've read every one of Ellen Hopkins's novels, this powerful, important little book in spare, lyrical free verse is a must read.

(looking forward to starting Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz over the weekend, especially after it picked up a Printz honor, the Belpre and the Stonewall Awards on Monday at the ALA awards!)