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The free verse also provides a great vehicle for a story about so much ugliness — Angel has been forced into prostitution, she has been beaten, Call threatens her and plays games with her that demoralize her, and girls are disappearing from the streets, possibly thanks to a serial killer (the afterword addresses the historical inspiration of this subplot in detail). But at times the free verse highlights the small flaws in Angel’s generally strong voice.
But it made at least one year-end list, so someone should be able to argue a different reading. Opinions stated here do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, NYPL, YALSA or any other institutions with which the authors are affiliated. When sixteen-year-old Angel meets Call at the mall, he buys her meals and says he loves her, and he gives her some candy that makes her feel like she can fly. My Book of Life By Angel was not an easy or comfortable read by any means, but it was well worth pushing myself to pick up. The book begins almost in a jumble with the flighty thoughts of a brain jumping from drug use and recent withdrawal.
In My Book of Life by Angel, Angel is chillingly aware of a number of women of her profession that have gone missing and the beleif that a murderous man is behind these disappearances. Yeah, as I said in my review, this really isn’t my kind of book, which makes me feel odd recommending it, but I WAS glad that I read it. I’m so glad you’ve reviewed My Book Of Life By Angel, it deserves more attention!

FTC DisclaimerWhile the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Select an image for your comment (GIF, PNG, JPG, JPEG): Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Choose from a new Brave Girl Course by Melody Ross, along with beautiful, soulful featured courses by many of our other world-class BGU teachers. My Book of Life by Angel is a gritty free verse tale of a teen prostitute looking for a way out. Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. I liked it too, but The Dollmage is probably my second favorite Martine Leavitt book after Angel. So many of these things would be difficult to impossible to convey with any grace or delicacy in prose — these are terrible things, but what is left unsaid or glossed around because of the free verse allows the emotion and meaning to come through in ways that are as palatable as they can be. When Angel sounds wise beyond her years, it can be attributed to the life she has led, but it’s hard to see how she can still be naive, and sometimes she is painfully so. Angel as a character becomes deeper through her relationship to Milton’s words and My Book of Life by Angel as a novel similarly gains depth through that connection.
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Now Angel is stuck working the streets at Hastings and Main, a notorious spot in Vancouver, Canada, where the girls turn tricks until they disappear without a trace, and the authorities don’t care. Melli’s character is similarly younger than her purported age, which made me wonder if rather than 16 and 11, Leavitt wanted them to be, say, 13 and 8 and they were aged up in edits without being extensively rewritten. By and large, this is a rich and compassionate portrait of girls who are often overlooked by society, and their humanity is on sharp display here. It struck me as inconceivable that Angel’s father has moved in the scant 8 months since Angel ran away, because the brief glimpse we have of him is not that able to act, much less act to let go of his daughter. But after her friend Serena disappears, and when Call brings home a girl who is even younger and more vulnerable than her to learn the trade, Angel knows that she and the new girl have got to find a way out. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. To generalize wildly, we are probably all safely removed from the harsh realities that are life for so many teens. They tell us exactly what we need to know, and yet somehow they are poetic enough to feel like dancing and clouds sometimes even at the toughest times in the story.

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