Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review - My Book Of Life By Angel - Martine Leavitt

My Book Of Life By Angel
Author: Martine Leavitt
Publisher: Macmillan
Hardcover: 256 Pages
Published: September 4, 2012

Book Description (Goodreads):
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. Pretty soon she's addicted to his candy, and she moves in with him. As a favor, he asks her to hook up with a couple of friends of his, and then a couple more. 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. 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.

  • This book immediately caught my attention because it seemed very "Ellen Hopkins-esque". Written in free verse AND with a subject matter of addiction, I was convinced it couldn't go wrong.
  • I read this in one sitting. It took me about 45 minutes to read it straight through, perhaps slightly longer. It was compelling enough to make me stay up late to find out what happens to our heroine. 
  • I enjoyed reading about the relationships (strange as they may be) that developed among the "working" girls. My heart broke when an innocent 11-year old girl (That's a 6th-grader, people!!!!) was introduced into the story. I loved that Angel always was trying to take care of her and protect her. 
  • Everything was so incredibly vague. Vagueness in a story where the subject matter is addiction, yet you can't even really tell what drug the main character is using is a little too...blah..for me?  In regards to the prostitution and drugs, everything just seemed like it had a gloss painted over it. Perhaps the author didn't want to offend anyone? Let's just insinuate what this might mean, but not really come out and say it.
  • I have no idea who this book was written for. Like I said before the vagueness and basically no details of anything drug or sex-related in the book made it seem like it was written for a younger audience, but then there was an 11 year old girl brought into the sex trade halfway through the book which was horrifying to me and then there were random sentences and descriptions of explicit sex acts, which made it seem like it should be for a much older audience. 
  • Right off the bat, we're supposed to be OBSESSED with her missing friend. I barely had any sympathy for the main character, Angel, let alone a phantom girl who I was never really even introduced to in the book. I just couldn't really build up ANY type of feeling for Angel. I didn't get the shoplifting only one shoe thing. I thought that was really strange and confusing. She just seemed....not smart. I finally started feeling some empathy for her when she stood up for the 11- year old girl and (I can't believe I'm writing this about a character named Angel) took the young girl under her wing.
  • I found the fact that she was able to kick her drug habit so easily sort of unbelievable. I've read a lot of "drug/ addiction" books.  Angel was one of the first characters I had ever read about who was able to escape her habit so seemingly easily. There were quite a few details that made it seem unrealistic to me, but two of them really stuck out in my memory.  First of all, she was STILL in the exact same situation where she was forced to prostitute herself (which she had always needed the drugs before to make herself go through with any of it), she was living in the same place, she had the same boyfriend/ pimp who was still using drugs and she still had easy access to them. That doesn't seem like it would make for an easy recovery. Second of all, every few pages the author would randomly throw something in there about Angel puking or sweating or shaking or insert any of the other myriad of symptoms of withdrawal. I wish the author would have told us a little bit more about the psychological withdrawal Angel must have been going through. I feel like that is one of the most important ways to make an addiction believable, and I was completely missing that throughout the story.

Overall, (Have I used this word enough yet?) VAGUE. I wanted more details, more grittiness. The book could have easily used an extra hundred pages to really explore Angel's character, her friends disappearance and her recovery from her addiction. The sad thing about this book is that even though it isn't exactly a "true story",  there are young girls being taken advantage of and just "disappearing" all over the world. While this wasn't my favorite story, spreading awareness about this "hush-hush" issue of drug abuse and prostitution among young teens does take guts to write about (Hello, banned books list!) and really doesn't get talked about that much, especially in YA literature. 

I think this cover might be really pretty in person, but I haven't seen it person, so all I have to go by is the online image. All of the grey tones (meant to signify the bleakness of her plight I'm thinking) and her ACTUALLY having/wearing wings might just be slightly too cliche for my taste.

Martine Leavitt - Goodreads Author Page 

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy courtesy of the publisher in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Aw, too bad the book didn't live up. It seems like it has everything to be an intense read but it just wasn't executed well.