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My Book of Life by Angel

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,628 Ratings  ·  342 Reviews
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 M ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published August 22nd 2012)
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Aug 12, 2012 Julia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Julia by: karen
Leavitt crafted a beautiful story told completely through verse. Even though this book was gritty, there were still redeeming and hope-inducing qualities to it that kept the story from descending into the route of nihilism. That's a pretty tough job considering My Book of Life by Angel is about child prostitution. This novel balanced on a tight rope, which only served to make it more impressive when this novel succeeded immensely. There were a variety of ways this book could have been crafted, t ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
My Book of Life by Angel was one of those books that I challenged myself to read. You know the type, you see it sitting there being all of these things that are interesting but not at all what you look for in a book. The type that every once in a while you make yourself pick up, just to prove that you haven’t let yourself be neatly filed and categorized as a reader. My Book of Life by Angel is a very recently placed Historical Fiction, set in the 1980s in Vancouver, BC. It focuses on heavy issue ...more
Rebecca McNutt
It's extremely difficult for most writers to tell such a deep story using only free verse poetry, but Leavitt pulls it off with flying colours. Angel, a young dopesick prostitute, is trying her best to keep her apathetic pimp's newest "recruit" off the streets (a little girl from a city group home no less), and the innocent, naive voice in the seemingly simple little verses gets the story across very effectively. Underage prostitution isn't a topic that many people want to think about, but books ...more
Edward Sullivan
A grim, ugly subject but a beautifully told story, poignant and full of compassion.
Keira Francis
Oct 03, 2014 Keira Francis rated it really liked it
Angel is a sixteen year old girl who needs help. And she finds it. She meets Call, and soon believes she is finally loved again, and believes that she found someone that truly understands her and won't leave her. Angel moves in with Call, and from the day she moves in she is part of Call's "business." Angel is taking drugs that Call gives her and is being used by Call to make money. He asks for her help in the business, asks her to be nice to some of his friends. But when the friends don't stop ...more
Sep 19, 2012 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Utterly awesome!!!!!!Just finished reading Martine Leavitt's My Book of Life By Angel, an absolutely breath-taking novel in verse, which brilliantly, hauntingly, provocatively explores the life of 16-7ear-old Angel, who works the "kiddie stroll" in downtown Vancouver's Eastside during the Pickton murders - powerful stuff indeed!

One thing I found especially moving is the list of names of the missing women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside that Leavitt gives her readers at the end of the book after
Apr 22, 2014 Kari rated it it was amazing
Sixteen-year-old Angel, a vulnerable teen, is coerced into drugs and prostitution by a young man she meets in a mall during a time when sex workers disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. What Angel must endure to get through every day life is heroic enough, but when Melli comes into her life, the stakes get a lot higher.

Told with heart, courage, and amazing insight into emotion and human struggle, Martine Leavitt writes a story that is impossible to forget.

And for readers who rely heav
Jul 01, 2012 Krystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I was surprised that I liked this book. Typically, I don't enjoy books that are written in verse. However, Martine Leavitt writes powerfully, her words injected with strong emotions that stick with the reader throughout the novel. Angel is a girl who has fallen on hard times at a very young age. After her mom passed away, Angel feels lonely and vulnerable. With her father and her arguing more and more, Angel turns to drugs to feel better-a man named Call her supplier. Before long, Call convinces ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Liviania rated it really liked it
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
Katie Fritz
Sep 30, 2014 Katie Fritz rated it liked it
When Angel is misled by Call in the dark and dangerous world of prostitution and drugs, she can't seem to see a way out. Call's love and favors turned into a job, and in this book the setting mostly is the streets Angel works on. She does her job, without knowing a way to do anything about it. When Call brings home a Melli though, a silent 11 year old who is much to young and innocent for the business call provides, Angel knows she has to do something. She protects the young girl, earning double ...more
Susin Nielsen
Jun 20, 2013 Susin Nielsen rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I met Martine at the CLA awards in May. My new book, "Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen," was picking up an award, and so was Martine's. We exchanged copies. I politely told her I would read it, but secretly thought, "What a harrowing topic" (perhaps ironic since you could say that about my book, too!).

This is just an incredible, beautiful, painful, absorbing read. I am quite frankly blown away by Martine's talent. She immerses me in the world of Angel. I live in Vancouver,
Amber Kaldy
Oct 21, 2014 Amber Kaldy rated it really liked it
This twisted romance is a good read. Angel gets hooked on "candy." And is forced to do things she does not want to do. Call is an evil being of nature, that is her "boyfriend," and he has threatened to do bad things to her family. Vancouver Downtown Eastside is where all this goes on. One day he brings home Melli a little girl to do the awful business. Angel has to think of away to get Melli and herself out of this hell hole. What will happen next read to find out. If you like books with avast p ...more
This was just so beautiful and sad.
Kathy Martin
Aug 09, 2012 Kathy Martin rated it really liked it
I don't think I have ever read a novel in verse before. I was amazed at the complexity of thought and emotion that could be packed into so few words and phrases. Angel has a very powerful voice. I felt so sorry for the child who dealt with grief by stealing and who ran away to the Mall to get away from her sorrow. And even more sorry when she fell for what Call was offering.

It is easy to see how vulnerable children can get sucked into prostitution one little step at a time. Seeing that world th
Jan 07, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
In a dentist chair
when you're so upside down
and you don't have anything else to hang on to
you want to believe maybe this isn't all you get--
when so many people try to beat the angel out of you,
you hang on for dear life.

And then the baby dentist was done
and I lived.
I always live.


I said, I'm sorry Melli.
I said, there has to be the possibility of sad endings
or there couldn't be such a thing as happy endings.
Endings are happy because they could have been sad.
Maybe ours will be sad.


Child pr
Gabrielle Prendergast
Sep 10, 2012 Gabrielle Prendergast rated it really liked it
Yesterday I blogged about controversial themes in verse novels. A recent release verse novel goes further into controversial themes than almost any I’ve ever read. MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt combines a universally relatable tale about a girl who has fallen as far out of respectability as is possible (she’s become an addicted prostitute) with a very specific rather pointed indictment of the city of Vancouver’s lukewarm investigation of the serial killings of prostitutes by Robert ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Prose poetry cry to the angels—or anyone really, even herself—to be saved from life as a 16-year-old drug addicted prostitute in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Angel starts her story after the disappearance of her street friend Serena, she who believed in angels and Wednesday night church, where they served the free hot dogs. If fact, many street girls have gone missing. There’s talk of a hunter, a Mr. P. with his van who takes and hurts the girls. They never come back, and when Serena’s gone an ...more
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Miquelle Leslie
Dec 11, 2013 Miquelle Leslie rated it really liked it
If you are looking for an eye-opening book, pick up this one. My Book of Life by Angel is a heart-stirring story about 16 year old Angel that gets lured into prostitution by her boyfriend Call. Controlled by Call through “candy”, Angel is trapped in a lifestyle that she doesn’t want. When Call brings home Melli a girl of ten, who he wants to start in the business, Angel finds the courage to change her life and save Melli. Through this book a reader gains incredible insight into the world of pros ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Scribs rated it it was amazing
"I thought she would be
all floaty and filmy,
all fragile ghost bones that break,
all dandelion-seed hair and weightless--

but no,
She was stone, fixed, forever...

Her words dripped into my ear--
each drop weighed a star.

She said, Angel,
when God reads your book of life,
boy, are some people ever gonna get it."

Holy. Smokes. This book. THIS BOOK. It absolutely blew my mind. It deals with one of the darkest topics I can think of, YET...

As Martine herself puts it:
"It is not the gray areas that are interes
Aug 05, 2016 Jayne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-420

Bawl. My. Face. Off. In a good way. Martine Leavitt is becoming one of my new all time favorite authors. This books follows Angel, a girl dealing with the death of her mother who unwittingly gets pulled into prostitution by her so called boyfriend. Angel suffers through the horrors of prostitution until one day her boyfriend brings home an 11 year old girl to help Angel bring in profits. What follows is one of the most beautifully depicted stories of love and sacrifice I've e
Salina King
Dec 09, 2014 Salina King added it
Shelves: t-l-307
My Book of Life by Angle is a story of a young girl that has to work on the streets selling her body for a living. After many girls have mysteriously disappeared Angle decides she no longer wants to live the way she is. However that requires her to get away from a very controlling pimp, completely detox off of cocaine and find a way to support herself. Through out the book a reader can watch Angle grow into a brave young girl who is determined to change for the better. I think this book should b ...more
Aug 19, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok

I'm not entirely sure if the verse format worked with such a heavy story. I feel like it captured Angel's voice right and really added to the despair and pain of her character, but at the same time, the story itself was so tough I'm not sure the verse was necessary to convey the voice, either.

I think there's something topically and stylistically that'll appeal to some fans of Ellen Hopkins, but this is much more literary. This feels like one of those books that could have some award-y talk
Jan 14, 2013 Ricki rated it it was amazing
16-year-old Angel is struggling after her mothers death when she meets a man, Call, at the mall. He slowly grooms her, convincing her that if she loves him, she will have sex with other men for money. The novel begins when Angel's best friend, Serena, and others are missing, and word on the street is that there is a man named Mr. P killing them. Angel is addicted to drugs and in a fog until Call brings home a small 11-year-old girl, Mellie. Angel sees, with great clarity, that she needs to save ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Angus rated it it was amazing
This book is exquisitely told and it completely blindsided me on the emotional level. It's about a young girl prostitute working the streets of Vancouver Canada. It gives voice to those girls who disappear and poses the questions about what happens to them and why their disappearances are rarely solved. The story focuses on Angel and her relationship with a girl, even younger than herself, who she tries to protect from the exploitative characters manipulating the sex trade. It is told in free ve ...more
Isabelle Reyes
May 29, 2015 Isabelle Reyes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is in my favourites shelf for a reason. It is hard to find verse novels in a library and I am so happy I found this. I am not allowed to buy books in my household, but I broke the rules for this book. Taking place in an area I know well, I felt everything become more realistic. There are women out there who are put into Angel's situation and they could be only a few steps away. I found the voice used throughout the book to be very realistic. I found myself quoting lines from the book a ...more
Oct 11, 2016 Julia rated it it was ok
My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt was realistic fiction. This book was hard for me to follow the story and understand, but I did get the key concepts. 16 year old Angel met a young man named Call at the mall one day. Little did she know she would be forced into drugs and prostitution. Working on the street of Vancouver is tiring enough, until Call brings "home" a silent young girl names Melli. Angel will do anything to protect her even if it means doing double the work. How will she co ...more
Angel Valdez
Jan 29, 2015 Angel Valdez rated it it was amazing
I randomly picked this book off of the shelf at the library. I didn't even read the jacket to find out what it was about, I simply did not want to choose from my normal authors. Starting out, I was thrown by the author's choice of writing in verse and the seemingly jumbled thoughts of Angel. I was quick to dismiss it and ready to push it to the side. But for some reason this book was calling to me. It turns out, Martine Leavitt's writing style made the book beautiful. This was a heartbreaking ta ...more
Heather Colacurcio
Dec 22, 2012 Heather Colacurcio rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A chillingly dark novel in verse about a young girl forced into prostitution by a "boyfriend" who claims her as property and threatens to kill her family if she leaves. Leavitt finds light in the darkest of places, with prose that is painfully gorgeous to read. We feel Angel's hope and hopelessness, her desire for freedom and her precarious constraints, the glimmer of innocence in her heart and the hardness of the streets in her soul. Easily one of the best Young Adult releases of 2012 and one t ...more
Mar 06, 2015 Juliefrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I had the honor and pleasure of being an MFA student alongside Martine Leavitt at Vermont College. We were all in awe of her grace, her empathy, her work ethic... She's amazing. This book is a heartbreaker. It doesn't end with all well and safe, and that's appropriate. I appreciated her note at the end about the serial murders of sex workers in Vancouver committed by one man but aided and abetted by the callous disregard for sex workers held by the police force and public. Wish I could teach/dis ...more
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Martine Leavitt has published ten novels for young adults, most recently Calvin, which won the Governor General’s Award of Canada. My Book of Life by Angel was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year. Other titles by Leavitt include Keturah and Lord Death, a finalist for the National Book Award, Tom Finder, winner ...more
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