This is a gripping story about a teenage sex worker trying to survive on the streets, during the Picton murders.
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.
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. The girls who get in the
van never come back. They don’t go
missing. They’re dead.
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.
ends up on the street is very believable, and probably more common than we want
to admit. Her mother dies of cancer, and
her father isn’t coping well. He doesn’t know what to do with Angel. Angel
starts staying away from home – mostly hanging out at the mall. And then she starts shoplifting. She wants to be home, but after meeting Call,
and getting caught with drugs, her father kicks her out. He doesn’t want her around her younger
brother. And so begins her life of
prostitution and drugs. Every time she
tries to leave, Call threatens to harm Angel’s younger brother. But Call underestimates Angel. He
doesn’t count on her caring about Melli. And he doesn’t count on her inner
I was drawn
to this book, because I think Martine Leavitt is a brilliant author (I loved Tom Finder and Heck Superhero), and also because she based her novel on the true
stories of the women who disappeared and were later found murdered, on the
Picton farm. I imagine it’s difficult to research and write such a story, but
Leavitt told it with such sensitivity and respect for the characters, and without
smoothing things over.
Her use of
narrative verse quickly brings the reader right into the heart of the story,
and that’s where you stay. It was hard
to put down and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Like other great books written in verse, when
it’s done as well as this, every line counts.
I think this book will have adult crossover appeal. It’s a grim story, but one that is important
to tell, and Martine Leavitt has told it beautifully.