My Book of Life by Angel
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My Book of Life by Angel

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  985 ratings  ·  230 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 Angelis stuck working thestreets at Hastings and Main...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 FREEBIRD rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to FREEBIRD 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
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
Edward Sullivan
A grim, ugly subject but a beautifully told story, poignant and full of compassion.
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...more
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...more
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...more
Jul 01, 2012 Krystal rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Susin Nielsen
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,...more
Seit die 16-jährige Angel sich in Call verliebt hat und von zu Hauße rausgeschmissen wurde ist das junge Mädchen drogensüchtig und wird von Call, einem Zuhälter auf den Babystrich geschickt. Benebelt von den Drogen bringt sie jeden Tag das Geld nach Hause das sie verdient hat und hofft auf ein besseres Leben, immer wieder schweifen dabei ihre Gedanken an eine Freundin von ihr, die sie schon lange nicht mehr gesehen hat, ab. Früher hat Angel noch gelacht als Serena gesagt hat das sie an Engel gl...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miquelle Leslie
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
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
Kathy Martin
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...more

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...more
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
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
Heather Colacurcio
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
YA Book Recommendations
My reaction in one gif:

Full review:
There are some books that I read, and think, THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. My Book of Life by Angel is one of those books.

Leavitt handles this topic with great empathy and care. So many people do not have empathy for the women in prostitution, as is evident in Leavitt’s Author’s Note where she mentions that the police took no action against prostitutes being murdered. The main character, Angel, is there of her own mistakes, but Leavitt never blames her for her situatio...more
Jun 10, 2014 Ashlyn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ages 16 and older, both boys and girls
Recommended to Ashlyn by: Jayne
Shelves: ya-classroom
"I said, Melli, when you're a kid
you think if you break the rules
you will die.

But one day you break the rules, and you don't die,
and then you think you'll never die.
You dump all the rules and you're so light you float.

But you can get so high
there's no air up there.
You can get so high, there's nothing to see but clouds
that rain you down."
(Leavitt 103)

Summary: This verse novel takes place in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside during a period in the 80s and 90s when more than 60 women went missing, most...more
Samantha Holler
My Book of Life by Angel is written by Martine Leavitt. A fictional memoir of a 16-year-old girl, Angel. Angel only takes one display shoe when she shoplifts and her family life is a bit of a struggle. Her mother died when she was younger, and her father suffers from severe depression. Angel meets a boy named Call; she feels that she has met somebody who actually understands her. She moves in with him and starts getting involved with drugs. With the influence of Call, he puts Angel to work the c...more
Madeline Isaak
Martine Leavitt writes My Book of Life by Angel. A fictional memoir of a 16-year-old girl, Angel, and she is known for shoplifting a shoe from many stores. She only takes one display shoe when she shoplifts. Angel family life is a bit of a struggle, her mother died when she was younger and her father suffers from severe depression. Angel meets a boy named Call; she feels that she has met somebody who actually understands her. She moves in with him and starts getting involved with drugs, which is...more
Janndon Evans
Class 5: April 5; HS Fiction in Verse
Characters: Angel, her pimp (Call), the young girl the pimp is grooming to replace Angel
Setting: 1980s Vancouver

Our protagonist, Angel, has the misfortune of being a victim of the teen sex slave trade in Vancouver. Snatched up by a man named Call, then given drugs to control her, she is used for her body and treated as nothing more than a commodity. Along the way, Call introduces her to a ten year old girl, which she quickly learns is her replacement. The on...more
Powerful and chilling. Feels like the wind has been knocked out of me. Yet despite the tragedy of it, you cheer for Angel as she manages to wrest control from those creeps. Sure gives a different take on the message we've been getting about why it's a good thing to legalize prostitution, being a sex worker is an honest choice, etc., and esp. important to hear this message when the prostitution law has just been struck down! This should be required reading by anyone involved in formulating legisl...more
Caty Carino
Martine Leavitt writes My Book of Life by Angel. A fictional memoir of a 16-year-old girl, Angel, and she is known for shoplifting a shoe from many stores. She only takes one display shoe when she shoplifts. Angel’s family life is a bit of a struggle. Her mother died when she was younger, and her father suffers from severe depression. Angel meets a boy named Call; she feels that she has met somebody who actually understands her. She moves in with him and starts getting involved with drugs, which...more
Sophie Gray
My Book of Life by Angel is a very sad novel that tells a story about a girl who was abducted. The title of the book is what drew me into read it at first, I was curious as to what the title meant and the message that was held in the book that would explain that title to me as the reader. At first, I was really into the book, wondering how the young girl, Angel was going to escape from the man. However, overtime I found myself losing interest in the book as it slowed down for awhile, with unnece...more
Mrs. Munoz
This book is on the new 2015 CT High School list. It is a fictionalized memoir written in verse about a dark and disturbing, but very real topic....teenaged prostitution and how young girls end up in a vicious circle of despair and drug use. Although it's not a light summer read, if was very beautifully and hauntingly written tale about a girl named Angel who ends up trapped by a "boyfriend" in a life of sex trade and drug use. When her captor brings home a much younger girl, she has a decision...more
Sami Wilson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Larson
This book was on the Notable Books for a Global Society list, and for good reason too. It is about Angel who falls in with the wrong crowd and becomes a prostitute. When one of her friends goes missing, she vows to change her life. This is a heart wrenching story about a young girl who lets her guard down and that gets her into trouble. It is a story about loss and love, and your heart goes out to Angel for the life she lives. I really liked how this book reflects on real events that happened in...more
Lori Nakagawa
My Book of Life by Angel is a novel in verse that uses poetry to depict the sexual exploitation of young girls in a North American city. This rather realistic portrayal of the life will help expose an important issue that many choose to ignore. It would be a strong companion for a multi-genre project with Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. The fact that it takes place in a developed country rather than a third world country is helpful.

While I gave the book a four star rank for...more
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Martine Leavitt is the author of eight novels for young adults, including My Book of Life by Angel, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year Award. Keturah and Lord Death was a National Book Award finalist, Tom Finder was a winner of the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, and Heck Superhero was a Governor General’s Award finalist. Martine’s novels...more
More about Martine Leavitt...
Keturah and Lord Death Heck Superhero The Dollmage Tom Finder Blue Mountain

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