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Devine Intervention Hardcover – June 1, 2012
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Starred Review. Jerome is no teen angel.A hell raiser when alive and killed by his cousin in eighth grade in an unfortunate archery accident, he has spent his afterlife in Soul Rehab assigned to Heidi in an attempt to win his way into Heaven. Not that he's very committed to the notion; he lost his \u0022Guardian Angel's Handbook\u0022 pretty much right away, but he sort of tries. Heidi has more or less enjoyed Jerome's company, though he could sometimes be annoying. When Heidi, having experienced unendurable humiliation in a high-school talent show, ventures onto thin ice and falls through, Jerome does his best to save her soul—as much for her own sake, he's surprised to find, as for his. Brockenbrough devises a devilishly clever narrative, alternating Jerome's first-person account with Heidi's tightly focused thirdperson perspective. Tying both together are commandment-by-commandment excerpts (often footnoted) from Jerome's lost handbook, each stricture slyly informing the
succeeding chapter. The rules governing Jerome's afterlife lead to frequently hysterical prose. He can't swear, of course, so he substitutes euphemisms: \u0022… if I weren't so chickenchevy\u0022; \u0022It was a real mind-flask.\u0022 Beneath the snark, though, runs a current of
devastatingly honest writing that surprises with its occasional beauty and hits home with the keenness of its insight. As the clock ticks down on Heidi's soul, readers will be rooting for both Jerome and Heidi with all their hearts. (Paranormal adventure. 12 & up)
Heroes don\u2019t get much more unlikely than Jerome Hancock, who met an early demise
courtesy of an arrow to the head. In the 16 years since, Jerome, frozen at age 17, has been
laboring through afterlife rehab, trying to make it into heaven. He\u2019s not promising
material, but he\u2019s game, sticking close to Heidi Devine, the soul he\u2019s been assigned for
guardian angel duty. \u201cHow much work could a baby be?\u201d he says. \u201cAlso, her mom was
hot, so I didn\u2019t mind hanging around one bit.\u201d Heidi grows up to be an awkward, selfconscious
teen, who thinks motormouth Jerome is just the voice inside her head until she
accidentally falls through pond ice and drowns, discovering that there is a soul that goes
along with that voice. But is Heidi really dead? Jerome\u2019s bumbling logic and wickedly
funny observations are what make Brockenbrough\u2019s first book for teens so much fun.
Underneath the occasionally risqu\u00e9 humor and unexpected plot twists (including the
possession of multiple animals\u2019 bodies) is an insightful story about seizing life for all it\u2019s
worth while you have the chance. Ages 12–up. - Jill Corcoran, the Herman Agency
By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2012
In Martha Brockenbrough's heaven, old people show too much leg playing leap frog, and the church choir covers classic rock. Clearly, Brockenbrough is not a follower of the New Testament.
That's good news for heathen readers who will delight in the author's absurdist take on the after life in her devilishly riotous young adult debut, \u0022Devine Intervention.\u0022 Steeped in the heavenly tropes of guardian angels and lost souls, \u0022Devine Intervention\u0022 is a satire in the vein of Libba Bray's \u0022Beauty Queens,\u0022 only with a decidedly sacrilegious twist.
It opens with a page from a handbook that is sent, upon death, to select members of SRPNT—the Soul Rehab Program for Nefarious Teens (Deceased) — in an effort to combat the \u0022growing problem of crowding in the lower levels of Hell.\u0022 One of those teens is a 17-year-old named Jerome, who had the misfortune of being punctured in the forehead by a friend's wayward arrow and finds himself at the pearly gates that are festooned with motivational posters and guarded by a man with \u0022a mustache the size of a harmonica.\u0022
Jerome reacts as any dead teen would when denied immediate entrance and given specific rules to follow to reclaim his soul. He misplaces the handbook and proceeds to violate its Ten Commandments for the Dead.
Among his soul rehab assignments was playing guardian angel to 16-year-old Heidi, but the one time he was really needed, Jerome was too busy yukking it up with a fellow SRPNT member to prevent Heidi from walking across a frozen pond and falling through the ice to her death. Now Heidi and Jerome are both in soul limbo.
The two are quite the odd couple. Heidi is a \u0022not hot ... cross-dressing lumberjack,\u0022 according to one of the book's uncharitable bit players. Jerome is a sexually frustrated virgin. But in death, their relationship is like an old marriage — more familiar than romantic, as well as conflicted, especially once Heidi realizes Jerome may have jeopardized her soul through sheer laziness.
They do have one thing in common that's likely to resonate with the book's intended audience. Neither Jerome nor Heidi felt loved by friends or family or were especially true to themselves when living. Death allows them to witness loved ones from another plane like a scene from Charles Dickens' \u0022A Christmas Carol.\u0022 Seeing others grieve their absence builds the self esteem of these troubled souls and brings some emotional heft to a story where comedy dominates.
\u0022Devine Intervention\u0022 is told in chapters that volley between a third-person perspective on Heidi and first-person narratives about Jerome. While both perspectives are written with searingly inventive humor, it's Jerome's voice that will have readers flipping pages as quickly as they can turn them to see what he'll have to say next.
Brockenbrough is a gifted writer who finds amusement in focusing on life's minutiae and who captures the slow-mo drama with which teens experience them, such as the time when Heidi's \u0022tongue felt like a lump of nasty cotton living in the armpit of a bum who has an apartment at the dump and not even the good kind of dump with busted car parts. The kind with fish heads ... and old transvestite wigs.\u0022
It is a pleasure to read a writer who so delights in language, and who writes so captivatingly in a teen voice with such imaginative description.
The story isn't without its flaws, however. The timeline of certain scenes is confusing, including the lead-up to the book's conclusion, which sees Heidi's fading soul morph in and out of a dog's body. But for readers who appreciate an apocryp
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Top Customer Reviews
My book preferences lean toward realistic fiction, so I wasn't sure I'd connect with Devine Intervention.
However, it's so full of heart and wisdom that I was hooked and read it in a day.
It made me laugh out loud many times, which is such a gift.
When I was done there was that blend of sadness that it was over and contentment from a fulfilling read.
The character of Jerome, who hides his grief and vulnerability behind a mask of obnoxious yet endearing self-absorption and cluelessness, reminds me of many boys I've known. He is so well-written that it was almost uncomfortable to be in his presence at times. And I mean that in the most positive way.
As a writer, I was in awe of Ms. Brockenbrough's skillful blend of two narrators, her tying up of every single thread in a satisfying way, and her inclusion of not one, but two sets of Commandments- one for the Living and one for the Dead.
Lots of wonderful grey areas in this book, too. It's a winner.
[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]
This book was definitely entertaining, and the serious moments weren’t downplayed, but I’m not sure about the ending.
I was expecting this book to be funny from what I’d heard, and it was. It was also more serious and thoughtful than I thought it would be, though, and I liked that. I also liked the writing, and the way that the characters would tell about a memory. I didn’t know it was in two points of view going in, and I liked that.
The story was a little slow paced, and it didn’t really get to one big climax. There were a few twists thrown in, and I really liked the Handbook guidelines between chapters. I’m not sure which character I preferred, because both of them were good characters, and very different from each other, with different voices.
Jerome is a bit of a mess-up, but he has a past, and he is actually a pretty sweet guy. Heidi feels a bit like a loser, and that sucks, but I think what happened let her get some perspective, and made her grow.
I was not expecting the ending. I mean, I thought of a couple outcomes (including, as I read closer to the end, what actually happened), but I didn’t know what did happen would actually be it. And I guess it fits. It makes sense, but I’m also not sure if I like it. Mostly, though, I think that’s because I wanted more of a happily ever after. This ending makes sense for the characters and the heaven thing, though.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable book. It was funny, and there were several stories and characteristics thrown in that I enjoyed.
From the very first page to the very last word, Martha Brockenbrough's Devine Intervention captured my heart. Once I closed the book I literally took a deep breath, hung my head in my hands, and cried. I let out these big, ugly sobs that I never thought I was capable of. It was just...an ending that I was not expecting what so ever. I wanted a happily ever after kind of ending and instead I was given an excellent but bittersweet ending.
But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. Let's talk about the gist of the novel:
Jerome Hancock is a guardian angel in training who is getting a second chance at heaven if he can succeed in guarding Heidi Devine. But Jerome isn't your average guardian angel trainee. He's kind of a riot. Jerome unknowingly breaks the commandments of the dead, which taint the goodness of his soul. He's also not a very good guardian angel as he makes his charge, Heidi, think she's crazy from a very early age. Jerome has spoken to Heidi ever since she could remember, singing Lynyrd Skynyrd, and offering familiar comfort when she feels alone.
By an unfortunate turn of events, Jerome has to sneak Heidi's soul into heaven through an opening at a mall. But things don't run as smoothly as they ought to. The clock is ticking and they must race against time before Heidi's soul is lost forever and Jerome's soul is sent to one of the nine circles of hell.
The particular and unique aspect I found in Devine Intervention was the layout of perspectives. It was told from Jerome's p.o.v's which is humorous and full of comic relief, and Heidi's, who is written in 3rd person. It's different and I've never seen that done before. But it WORKS. I'd have to say it's pure genius, writing the perspectives in that way.
I couldn't help myself from giggling at the things Jerome thought and said. He's a free spirit, young, and ignorant (as Heidi so bluntly put it). I also loved his censorship! He cannot swear. If he does then he suffers an excruciating amount of pain in his head. So Jerome being brilliant comes up with words to replace those swear words like holy smokes, dumbflask, and (my favorite) chevy. Hidden underneath Jerome's sarcastic demeanor there is a kind of brokeness to him. His story is one of those that crushed my heart because I will never understand how people could doubt the love of others.
I know, that's a little ambiguous, but I am sparing you from spoilers! ;)
Then there is Heidi, who has thought she was crazy since she was a little girl all thanks to Jerome. She was seen as under developed when she spoke about her imaginary friend. As the years passed she learned to keep Jerome a secret. Heidi is an artist, that's the thing she loves to do most of all, but her family pushes her to be athletic (since she's rather tall). I liked Heidi's character because she embodied insecurity and uncertainty. I love when characters are flawed. It makes them real, ordinary like you and me, but extraordinary at the same time. She's loving and caring when it concerns the people who are dearly important to her.
The novel is just full of heart and wisdom. The theology that is embedded into the story is creative and uniquely done. Brockenbrough's commandments were classic and could very well be true and right to live a good and honest life. But we aren't perfect and I like the the theme of redemption also integrated into the novel.
I know, I'm being ambiguous again! Don't shoot me.
There are plenty of twists, laughs, surprises, and tears that will captivate your heart. An author has a gift when they are able to bring forth such emotions like laughing out loud and crying your heart dry. Martha Brockenbrough is one of those authors. It's insightful and honest; about seizing the day and making life all it's worth while you have the chance. It's just beautiful. You'll just fall instantly in love with Jerome and Heidi. I did. And their story is one that will be with you for a very long time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hmm. So...this book wasn't terrible. It was okay. It was actually kind of cute but a little childish.Read more
This is hard to get into.