Winner of the CLA Young Adult Book Award, selected for the CCBC Choices List, selected for the Bankstreet College of Education's Best Children’s Books of the Year 2013, and honoured with the Horn Book Fanfare
It starts when Call sees sixteen-year-old Angel stealing shoes at the mall. He just buys her Chinese food at first, but before long Call is supplying her with "candy" and saying he loves her. Angel ends up living with him and walking the Kiddy Stroll in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside — a neighbourhood with a reputation for being the poorest postal code in the country, with one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. When Angel's best friend Serena goes missing, Angel starts to pay attention to the stories of other girls who have disappeared, and a mysterious Mr. P. who drives a van with tinted windows. But Call tells her she's crazy to worry, and the police turn a blind eye. And Angel remains trapped in her street life.
Then Call brings home another girl. Her name is Melli, and she is just eleven years old, and suddenly Angel realizes what she must do. Save Melli at any cost, and perhaps save herself at the same time.
This is a long-awaited new novel from Governor General's Award nominee and National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, who has created an unforgettable protagonist in the feisty and fragile Angel. Through her eyes, and in a haunting, startling verse narrative, we see Angel's life on the street and root for her as she tries to find a way out of violence and despair.
Meticulously researched, this is a beautifully written, harrowing but ultimately redemptive story told with grace, wit, compassion and deep respect for the missing women — the "Eastside angels" to whom the book is dedicated.
Leavitt probes an exceptionally difficult, raw topic without resorting to cliché or melodrama. The nuance, economy, and delicacy with which she renders both the uniqueness and universality of Angel's story is such that it's easy not to notice that the novel contains no graphic sex or even swearing. In trying to illustrate how good this book is, it's tempting to simply quote every line. Best just to read it and experience for yourself Leavitt's remarkably powerful achievement.
... the triumph of this story is in Angel's painfully real voice. Her matter-of-fact descriptions of her time with the johns are searing, and the casual brutality of her life will haunt readers.
In this novel in verse, Leavitt has created in Angel's voice a perfect mix of innocence and experience
Leavitt deftly tackles a difficult subject without a hint of melodrama or voyeurism. Angel's story could belong to any teen on the streets, though her voice is wonderfully unique.
An astonishing, wrenching achievement.
Mature, complex and relentlessly "real" in its subject matter, Leavitt's verse novel honours and quietly memorializes the women murdered by Robert Pickton.