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My Book of Life by Angel Hardcover – September 4, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-A 16-year-old caught up in a life of drugs and prostitution finds the strength to protect a younger girl in this lyrical novel in verse. Angel describes how her pimp, Call, lured her from her family with promises and "candy," the drug her body craves even as she tries to resist it, and onto street corners in Vancouver, where she struggles to earn enough money to please him. Angel worries about a friend who has disappeared-there are rumors of a serial killer preying on prostitutes, though the police seem unconcerned. In simple but evocative language, Angel takes readers into her world and makes them understand how she fell into Call's clutches. But when he brings home an 11-year-old, Angel realizes that she must risk her life to fight back. Leavitt deftly tackles a difficult subject without a hint of melodrama or voyeurism. Angel's story could belong to any teen on the streets, though her voice is wonderfully unique. She sees the human side of everyone she meets, even the johns who choose her because she looks even younger than she is. Despite her circumstances, she never loses hope. Reluctant readers looking for a gritty story that is also a quick read will be swept up in this one, as will anyone who appreciates novels in verse. This is a powerful book that will leave readers wishing they could hear more of Angel's gripping story.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Angel’s life on the street begins when Call, the man she thinks is her boyfriend, gets her hooked on “candy,” and before she knows it, she is forced to sell herself to support him—and her habit. But when Call brings home an 11-year-old girl, Melli, and demands that Angel train her for the street, Angel realizes that things must change. However, change may require a miracle. This novel is itself something of a miracle: a spot-on, compassionate—and passionate—account of a heartbreakingly horrible life. Perhaps there are angels looking after Angel, though; her efforts to save Melli and herself are heroic and, ultimately, inspired. In this novel in verse, Leavitt has created in Angel’s voice a perfect mix of innocence and experience, a blend that is underscored by seamlessly introducing passages from Milton’s Paradise Lost into her narrative. Death, too, is present in Angel’s life as women she knows begin vanishing from the street—victims, perhaps, of a serial killer. The story is loosely based on the epidemic of murders that began in Vancouver in 1983 and continued through 2002. But Angel’s story is uniquely her own, and Leavitt has done a brilliant job of imagining and recording it. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1 edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374351236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374351236
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this book, and then re-read it over and over again. Each time I felt the character speaking to me with a voice I'll never forget. Written in verse, Angel pulls us into her disturbing existence that we ache to see, though the language gives us hope that she is not broken by it. We trust that though her life is unfair and horrific, she has found truth and the essence of all that is beautiful. Martine Leavitt has given the world the story of a girl who grabs hold of the innocence in each of us, and breaks us page by page with the honest, dark, beautiful, and haunting reality of Angel's life. However, since I've read it, I realized that it is not just Angel's life. I hear her voice and see her bending spirit in the homeless, troubled, oppressed women that hide in the shadows of our society. In writing this, Martine Leavitt has taken them out of the shadows and into the light.
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Format: Hardcover
Martine Leavitt's MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL is the luminous and heartbreaking story of Angel, a young girl lured into prostitution who hungers to find her way out. Angel's journey is painful to follow, but readers who do will be rewarded by gorgeous writing, deep characterization and a compelling and twisty, turny plot. If I had to choose one word to describe Martine' book, that one would be "brilliant."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Capturing the voice of someone who has taken a terrible misstep in their life is a challenge, and one that Martine Leavitt manages with skill. Her telling of the story of Angel, a young teenager hooked on drugs and turned to prostitution by the pimp she loves, is both gripping and lyrically told. The horrors of her situation are handled in a way that make them accessible to a young adult reader, and Angel's intelligence that finally helps her escape makes her a strong character. This book will appeal to an adolescent looking for a book with some grit and some darkness; it certainly makes the life of a girl on the streets frightening and repulsive, while drawing sympathetic characters in Angel and the people who help her. The language is beautiful and the story moves very quickly. The background of the book is a true story of a serial killer of prostitutes in Vancouver. HIghly recommended for the right reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this novel-in-verse and I think female students will also. Angel is a prostitute and has run away from home as a young teen and become hooked on drugs by her boyfriend/John, Call. Angel is very concerned about one of her friends (I think Gina) who has disappeared and she spends a good amount of time worrying about her. Gina took Angel under her wing and helped her with the idea of writing about her life in a book (hence the title). Leavitt does a great job of showing the reader Angel's conflicting thoughts (drug addled and lonely and trapped) and it is through Angel's stream of consciousness that we learn about how Call lured her to him with friendship, then drugs and then prostitution. It is when Call takes and brings home a much younger girl that Angel realizes she must do something to help this girl...
Leavitt also talks about her research on the many prostitutes that went missing and how it helped with this book.
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Format: Paperback
THIS BOOK WAS BEAUTIFUL. Powerful. Emotional. Poetic. Exquisite. Hard to read, but hard to put down. Heart-rending, heart-wrenching, heartbreaking. Guys, it was just lovely in the most tragic of ways. And everyone should read this book.

My Book of Life By Angel is about a girl named Angel, a girl tricked and deceived and lured and eventually trapped into prostitution. At sixteen years of age. But she tells her “dates” that she’s 13 and it’s her first time because people will pay more for that. Because the world is awful, you know? People can be cruel and horrible.

But then there are people like Angel. Someone who may have been a little naive, but still doesn’t deserve the life she was forced into. She’s called a whore. And, you know, that’s probably what most people think if they were to drive by a prostitute on the sidewalk. You don’t think, “Oh, I bet she’s a lovely person.” You avert your eyes and keep moving because you don’t want to involve yourself with those kind of people. Right? I think that’s what moved me about this book. This book helped me sympathize with people I don’t necessarily understand. Do I understand being tricked and then forced into prostitution? Do I understand seeing girls around me go missing and then seeing no one bat an eye because we “don’t really matter”? Do I understand the need for “candy” or drugs to escape the reality of my life? No, I don’t. Not at all. And I don’t pretend to understand what they go through every day. I’ve lived an easy life in comparison. But this book helped me to sympathize for them, to want to help them. It makes me sad for the world we live in where 16-year-olds and 10-year-olds are wanted and paid for by men four or five times their age. I can’t even think about it right now.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoy novels-in-verse. The good ones are propulsive. The poetry invites you to linger over the way things are said, yet pushes you along to flow of the words. I find it very easy to slip into the rhythm of the story in a way that rarely happens with prose fiction.

National Book Award Finalist Martine Leavitt tackles tough topics in MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL, much like YA-novel-in-verse-heavy-hitter Ellen Hopkins. The narrator Angel is sixteen, working as a prostitute in Vancouver. She ran away to live with her boyfriend Call, who unbeknownst to her was a pimp. He got her addicted to drugs and convinced her that she wouldn't ever be welcome in her home again. It's a series of events that's happened to far too many girls.

But two events happen that give Angel the strength to go cold turkey. The first is the disappearance of Serena, a more experienced hooker who watched out for her. The second is the appearance of Melli, a mute eleven year old who Call wants to turn out. Angel is not so inured to her life that she's okay with that. She works double shifts and keeps turning down the drugs in order to protect her young charge. But as long as Melli is with Call she'll never be safe.

There is a noticeable shift in Angel's narration as she becomes more coherent and able to think more clearly about multiple things at once. The poetry always felt like a logical way for Angel to express herself. One of the things that makes the most impact on her during her time with Call is PARADISE LOST, Milton's epic poem, which a john makes her read aloud.

MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL is for mature readers only. It deals with prostitution of underage girls, drug abuse, and murders that go ignored.
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