My Book of Life by Angel

Martine Leavitt, Author
Martine Leavitt. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-35123-6
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 09/04/2012
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4703-5161-8
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-374-35124-3
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-1-55498-117-5
Ebook - 257 pages - 978-1-55498-317-9
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-1-250-04003-9
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This exquisite novel in verse tells the story of 16-year-old Angel, who has been working as a prostitute in Vancouver for nine months after her father throws her out. After Angel’s friend Serena disappears, Angel decides to give up her pimp Call’s “candy” (the drugs he feeds her) and try to return home. Angel’s withdrawal is severe (“I threw up in Call’s bathroom sink/ so hard I thought bits of stomach/ slid out of my mouth”) but it’s nothing compared to the pain she feels when Call brings home an 11-year-old girl, Melli, to follow in Angel’s footsteps. Angel is determined to keep Melli safe, even while other women continue to disappear. National Book Award finalist Leavitt (Keturah and Lord Death) makes good use of Milton’s Paradise Lost, which a john has Angel read aloud to him “while he does his thing,” but the triumph of this story is in Angel’s painfully real voice. Her matter-of-fact descriptions of her time with the johns are searing, and the casual brutality of her life will haunt readers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)■
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