Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Teen Pick: Devine Intervention (Guest Review)
by Martha Brockenbrough
Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic Books)
Blogger's Note: This review is courtesy of my BFF in publishing and fellow reviewer/writer Leslie Rush. Leslie is a high school teacher with a voracious appetite for ya novels.
From the first page welcoming the reader to the Soul Rehabilitation Program for Nefarious Teens (Deceased), or SRPNT, Devine Intervention is hilarious and heartfelt. Readers will relate to Jerome as he struggles to navigate his way through the afterlife.
Jerome is a hapless, teenaged, not-quite-an-angel, assigned to a soul rehab program. Apparently the lower levels of Hell were getting overcrowded, so Heaven devised this last-chance redemption for newly dead teens---kind of a heavenly First Offenders Program. Jerome is supposed to be a guardian angel, but he's not very good at it. Having lost his "Guardian Angel Handbook: Soul Rehab-Edition," he's pretty much "winging it" (yes, pun intended)... acting on instincts which are for the most part, lousy. He hasn't got much in the way of Heavenly support, other than the bureaucrat angel sponsors who run the program, and a fellow rehab member, a borderline psycho frenemy named Howard.
Jerome didn't have much support when he was alive, either; his mother abandoned him and his father when Jerome was very young, and Dad has descended into a defensive world of alcohol and despair. Before he died, Jerome had nobody but his friend Mike. His adventures with Mike not only got him killed---Jerome walks around in the afterlife with an unfortunate arrow sticking out of his forehead---but also initiated the sad, thoughtless act that left Jerome teetering on the brink of eternal damnation.
Jerome has been charged with guarding the soul of Heidi Devine since she was born. Heidi is 16 now, on the basketball team and a talented artist, with a secret. Her secret is the voice in her head, the voice who warns her of danger, tells her terrible jokes, and softly sings "Freebird" to her when she is down. Heidi is pretty sure she is crazy, but lives her life telling no one about this constant companion.
After a horrific day of epic failure, Heidi suffers a terrible, fatal accident. Jerome tries valiantly to rescue her, but as usual, things don't work out so well for him, and he and Heidi find themselves in a desperate, literally death-defying race with the clock to keep her soul from disintegrating permanently and to keep Jerome out of Hell. Complicating matters are the missing handbook, grieving friends and family members, a zippy little dog, and the lurking, nefarious Howard. As the conclusion draws near,readers may think they know how matters will turn out, but a nice plot twist resolves the story in an unexpected, satisfying way.
Brockenbough has a keen ear for teen boy thoughts and dialogue. Mild sexual references, mild violence, no profanity, just substitute cusswords (they are angels, after all).
Highly recommended for both boys and girls grades 7 and up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensations for this review. The guest reviewer did not receive monetary compensation for this review.