ARC (Advance Reading Copy). On sale September 4, 2012. Farrar Straus Giroux. 244 pp. (Includes Author’s Note).
In this novel-in-verse, mature high school readers will learn the sad story of Angel, a teenage runaway. Angel meets Call in a mall, who gets her hooked on drugs. She runs away to be with him, and soon is forced into prostitution. She doesn’t dare run away from Call’s physical abuse and her new life because there is no place for her to go and because he threatens to hurt her little brother if she leaves.
Soon, women and young girl prostitutes begin to disappear, but the police refuse to believe a killer is loose on the streets. To make matters worse, Call has found a young 11 year-old-girl who he has decided will join Angel’s line of work. The cloud of despair deepens as Angel tries to find a way out for young Melli. As she strives to think of a plan that will free little Melli it seems as if there will be no escape until, through reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost” every time a certain john comes to pick her up, Angel gradually comes to realize a form of hope and understanding of herself and what she can do to better her life and also save Melli.
“My book of life by Angel” brought tears to my eyes, realizing the plight of thousands of young girls who find themselves without hope and caught in the same world as Angel. In her author’s note, Leavitt educates readers on the underlying story behind Angel’s story which is based on true facts from the Vancouver prostitute murders which took place between 1983 and 2002 in Downtown Eastside. She also includes the names of 48 missing women from that timeframe, which further brings their stories to life.