My Book Of Life By Angel Martine Leavitt Book Review

Some contemporary books let you drift into complacence before hammering you with the theme and message, if there is one. Others take you right by the throat in a chokehold from the very beginning, not letting go until you turn the very last acknowledgements page. My Book Of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt is one of the later, a gritty chokehold sort of book set among the urban grime of an unnamed city. My Book Of Life By Angel does a bang up job raising awareness of the plight and the exploitation of teenage sex workers.

My Book Of Life By Angel Martine Leavitt Book Cover

The narrator is a teenage prostitute named Angel, so I think you can take a few guesses as to the mode and tone of the book. My Book Of Life By Angel is a book told in verse. Angel runs away from home after stealing some shoes from the mall. She ends up seduced by this smooth talking guy named Call who then takes advantage of Angel by pimping her out. Angel’s best friend, Serena, has gone missing. She suspects Mr. P, an unidentified serial killer who has been murdering other sex workers. To make matters even worse, Call brings in an 11 year old girl named Melli and expects Angel to take Melli under her wing and teach her how to be a sex worker. Angel, also trying to kick a drug habit, is at her wit’s end trying to find a way to save Melli. Martine Leavitt’s book not only is a fast read because it’s a book in verse and thus a lot of blank space, but because the plot is utterly engaging.

My heart definitely went out to Angel. The girl tries the best she can with what she has. Her life is rough. While her life prior to the streets was not all that awful, I can see why she is at a certain stage in life in the beginning of My Book Of Life By Angel. Although I have never been and will never be a sex worker, I felt an outpouring of sympathy for Angel. What she deals with is awful. It really bothered me how the men in the book fetishized little girls and so Angel would have to pretend to be younger just to turn more tricks. However, Angel is optimistic in that she can turn things around which prevents the book from being completely depressing and makes it ultimately uplifting. You see, despite the world trying to beat her down and trying to beat the heart out of her, Angel retains what makes her a good person despite all that she has been through.

Martine Leavitt does a fabulous job portraying sex workers as humans. She does not demonize them, but merely portrays them as people who fell into a bad situation. Instead, she villainizes the pimps and the johns for taking advantage of homeless girls and naive girls. Yet, she does not shy away from the grit. Characters die. Characters need drugs just to get through the day. Characters experience not only sexual abuse, but physical as well. This is a hard book to get through, especially if you do not have much exposure to the darker side of human nature.

I thought the verse style really suited the story in My Book Of Life By Angel. All of the poems in the book are written by Angel as she recounts her story to us, the readers. Each word felt as though it was crafted with care. When you write a verse book, there’s really no space for the superfluous, so you really have to have your word choice down in order to be successful. Martine Leavitt exceeds the expectations as far as word choice goes. With each turn of the page, I felt as though I was hit in the chest.

Look, I am going to be honest and say My Book Of Life By Angel is no cake walk to read. But it is HONEST. It is REAL. It is gripping. It raises awareness of the issue of sexual assault, especially pertaining to prostitutes. It shows how hard life can be for those struggling with addiction, I know usually we want to condemn people with addiction and tell them to just get their life together, but it’s not always that simple, especially when a myriad of other issues are going on. If you’re looking for a book to show you life at it’s darkest, but also give you some hope read Martine Leavitt’s My Book Of Life By Angel.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of My Book Of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt:

Taming The Bookshelf – “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

In Bed With Books – “a good book for anyone looking for a contemporary dealing with the darker side of modern life

Ms. Martin Teaches Media – “The lyrical language and gritty realism will not be easily forgotten

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. Sounds intriguing. Despite the grit, your review has made me curious, so I may TBR this one. 😀 Thanks for the review.

  2. I have so much respect for writers who deal with the dark side of humanity. Since we are all humans and are motivated by the same phenomena, those in the more well-off part of humanity can better understand themselves by reading about those in the dregs.

  3. Oh man, this sounds so painful, but I’ve been wanting to try more novels in verse AND I’ve never read any YA about prostitution. That’s seriously daring. I’ll just make sure to have tissues and some pillows to punch nearby when I read it.

  4. This makes my heart hurt just reading your review! I don’t know what’s sadder: the subject of this book or the fact that it actually exists.

  5. While verse novels aren’t really my go-to reading material, I can see how it would work well to tell this story. Angel sounds like a strong character and I’m glad that you say that though it doesn’t shy away from the bad stuff, it’s not all bad stuff.

    It’s easy to get preachy with a book like this, and I’m glad the author didn’t do it.

  6. I requested this one for review, and I’ve been questioning why ever since. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great, but it sounds HARD. I’m so glad to hear that you say that despite it being a tough read that it’s worth it. I’m not a big one for verse, or issue books, so I’m all sorts of nervous, but I’ll still be diving in soon!

  7. I have a copy of this one, and was especially intrigued because it’s a verse novel, and i think the verse format is especially successful with dark reads like this. I know it won’t be an easy read, but your review does make me more interested in checking it out. Great review, April.

  8. This does sound dark, but it’s important to know about these issues, especially since human trafficking is increasing (even in places in Europe where prostitution is legal). Most modern-day prostitutes are not there voluntarily.

    Thanks for reviewing this book, even though it is not an “easy” book.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Good Books and Good Wine reviews MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt […]

  2. […] and young adult literature gem. My first encounter with Leavitt’s books was with My Book Of Life By Angel, a book that really made me think and depressed me and ugh, all the things. Calvin is my second […]

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