Martine Leavitt’s My Book of Life by Angel

mybookoflifebyangelLeavitt, Martine. My Book of Life by Angel. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2012. Print.

Genre: YA novel in verse

Summary: A diary written in verse from the point of view of a prostitute in Toronto. Angel is young and hooked on drugs. Her pimp, Call, abuses her mentally and tries to keep her hooked on “candy.” When Call abducts a small child and tries to entrap her in the same life of degradation, Angel fights back to save the child and herself.

Critique: Powerful verses are the result of manymanymany revisions. (I know. I got to see the many stacks of attempted manuscripts Leavitt thudded on a table during a lecture.) The writing always honors Angel’s worldview by admiring or describing events in shoe-savvy and drug-draped metaphors and similes. Furthermore, it honors the many Angels on the streets Leavitt met while researching this book. The tension builds to a fever pitch every time Angel has to go off with a guy and do the business. Will she die? Is this man the infamous Mr. P who murders prostitutes? Will she escape from Call and return Meli to her family? It knots the stomach!