Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
Arthur A. Levine Books
June 1, 2012
There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.
This is not that story.
Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Sort of. He's more of an angel trainee, in heaven's soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he's just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.
Heidi, meanwhile, is a high school junior who dreams of being an artist, but has been drafted onto her basketball team because she's taller than many a grown man. For as long as she can remember, she's heard a voice in her head - one that sings Lynyrd Skynyrd, offers up bad advice, and yet is company during those hours she feels most alone.
When the unthinkable happens, these two lost souls must figure out where they went wrong and whether they can make things right before Heidi's time is up and her soul is lost forever.
Martha Brockenbrough's debut novel is hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful, with a sense of humor that's wicked as hell, and writing that's just heavenly
This is a very cute and funny novel, but there were some aspects that really turned me off. My main criticism is that the novel is filled with a tough subject matter of death and its effects on the grieving family as well as what comes next for that soul. I feel like this type of subject matter really should be aimed towards an older or more mentally mature audience, however; the language reads very young. I am not saying that middle grade readers should not be confronted with this topic, or that this topic has to be morbid (it can be quite humorous), but rather that the language is so young sounding that it can undermine the message and detach the reader from feeling any deep emotion.
For the duration of her life, Heidi always thought she was crazy - as did most of her classmates. She was constantly hearing the voice of the rebel Jerome, feeling the need to talk to him and respond to/act on his demands. When her life ends prematurely, she finds that she was not crazy, but rather that Jerome was her "guardian angel"... just not a very good one. Jerome was picked for Heaven's soul-rehabilitation program as a type of "purgatory" between Heaven and Hell. His mistakes with Heidi might just cost him eternal damnation into one of the levels of Hell. When Heidi is not immediately called upon by the angels, Heidi's soul is also pulled into question.
I know I mentioned that I did not feel any real emotional attachment to this novel, but it was good for a easy laugh. Some of the laughter stems from funny scenes, but some also comes from language that just does not sound right (which is unintentionally funny). The whole idea of a rehab for souls that did not really meet the qualification for Heaven but are not bad enough to be automatically sent into Hell is a really interesting idea. I related it to purgatory, as that type of in-between place, but in the novel it is not a time of repentance so much as a time of learning and understanding what that individual did wrong in his/her lifetime. Heaven and Hell are tossed around a lot in paranormal-ish (what would you classify this as?) YA, but what actually goes on in either of these places is not really explored. The technology (or magic? Not sure what to consider it) of Heaven and the rehab program are new and funny ideas and aspects to consider. The levels of Hell the author created are also quite interesting and fun (probably the only time I will use "Hell" and "fun" in a sentence).
So overall, if you can get passed the immature nature of the language, it really is a fun novel.