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September 30, 2013

ReaLITy Reads: Pranshu’s Response to THE BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt

Realistic fiction is a unique genre in YA because it illustrates challenging situations you may not have personally experienced but connects you to emotions you have. Whether it's uncovering life-altering secrets, making a tough choice, coming to terms with your sexuality or finding your voice, realistic fiction addresses themes relevant to real life. To highlight some of their fantastic realistic fiction, Macmillan established their ReaLITy program. Our Teen Board decided to check out these reads and respond to them in this blog series.

There are all kinds of different books in the world. There are the books that make you happy and feel like you’re living on a cloud where unicorns dance around and everyone gets free ice-cream. There are also books that make you cry and sob for days on end. Then, there are the books that make you hate the world and destroy everything in it.

THE BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt was that kind of book for me. It’s really no surprise, since the book deals child prostitution. This book is in free verse, by which I was pleasantly surprised. I think free verse is a great way for expressing your feelings, and it’s something that places no restrictions on you. When you start reading, you’re confused about what’s going on. The first few pages are all a jumble of words, and you’re not really sure where the story is going to go. But the beautiful writing grabs you, pulls you in, and drags you into the story.

When you do figure out what is going on, it’s like you’ve been punched in the gut, and all you’re thinking is “Why does stuff like this happen?” Then you feel even worse because you know that this kind of stuff is happening somewhere in the world. The hardest part for me was when a little girl is roped into doing this. I have little cousins who are around that same age and my mind immediately went to them. I don’t ever want them to know about the things that happened in this book. I want them to live a life full of joy and be oblivious to the horrors of the world. Yet, I realize that it is important for them to be aware of our world. This book isn’t easy to read. It’s not a cakewalk but it is real. It doesn’t shy away from reality but attempts to get more people to understand the harsh realities of the world. I personally think this is very a admirable goal. I love authors who try to show the flaws of humanity because, let’s face it, no one is perfect.

This book isn’t just pure fiction; this kind of stuff actually goes on in the world. Maybe it’s happening right this second. You want to kill every person who does this kind of sick thing and save everyone who has to go through something like this in their life. And then, after you finish reading and close the book, you feel a bit better about how the story ended. But what you forget is that there are countless other stories like this that are real and which don’t have a happy ending.