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My Book of Life by Angel

by Martine Leavitt

Published by Margaret Ferguson Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012
246 pages
ISBN: 978𢠥74-351236

Age 15 and older

Sixteen-year-old Angel is living with manipulative Call, who offered attention, physical affection, and a bottomless supply of crack after her mother抯 death. Now Angel is turning tricks for Call on a Vancouver street corner. Then Call shows up with eleven-year-old Melli, and Angel knows she can抰 stand by and watch him destroy her life. Determined to save Melli if not herself, she stops using crack, suffering mightily from withdrawal, and bargains with Call to earn the money of two girls each night, as long as he won抰 force Melli to start working. Martine Leavitt抯 fearless journey into Angel抯 dark world is written as a novel in verse in Angel抯 quietly haunting voice. Chapter headings are taken from Paradise Lost, a book that one of Angel抯 customers has her read and discuss with him. The story is powerful, the writing affecting and compelling, and Leavitt抯 afterword, about a serial killer who targeted women and girls on the streets of Vancouver during the 1980s and 1990s while police failed to vigilantly pursue the crimes, is heartbreaking and enraging. (In the novel, Angel抯 friend Serena has recently disappeared and rumors and fear abound.) But there is also, before that end, Angel抯 triumph as she outsmarts Call, gets Melli to safety, and takes the first steps toward reclaiming her life.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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