Devine Intervention

Devine Intervention

4.6 10
by Martha Brockenbrough
     
 

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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

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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Jerome is no teen angel.A hell raiser when alive and killed by his cousin in eighth grade in an unfortunate archery accident, he has spent his afterlife in Soul Rehab assigned to Heidi in an attempt to win his way into Heaven. Not that he's very committed to the notion; he lost his \u0022Guardian Angel's Handbook\u0022 pretty much right away, but he sort of tries. Heidi has more or less enjoyed Jerome's company, though he could sometimes be annoying. When Heidi, having experienced unendurable humiliation in a high-school talent show, ventures onto thin ice and falls through, Jerome does his best to save her soul—as much for her own sake, he's surprised to find, as for his. Brockenbrough devises a devilishly clever narrative, alternating Jerome's first-person account with Heidi's tightly focused thirdperson perspective. Tying both together are commandment-by-commandment excerpts (often footnoted) from Jerome's lost handbook, each stricture slyly informing the succeeding chapter. The rules governing Jerome's afterlife lead to frequently hysterical prose. He can't swear, of course, so he substitutes euphemisms: \u0022… if I weren't so chickenchevy\u0022; \u0022It was a real mind-flask.\u0022 Beneath the snark, though, runs a current of devastatingly honest writing that surprises with its occasional beauty and hits home with the keenness of its insight. As the clock ticks down on Heidi's soul, readers will be rooting for both Jerome and Heidi with all their hearts. (Paranormal adventure. 12 & up)

Publisher's Weekly
Heroes don\u2019t get much more unlikely than Jerome Hancock, who met an early demise courtesy of an arrow to the head. In the 16 years since, Jerome, frozen at age 17, has been laboring through afterlife rehab, trying to make it into heaven. He\u2019s not promising material, but he\u2019s game, sticking close to Heidi Devine, the soul he\u2019s been assigned for guardian angel duty. \u201cHow much work could a baby be?\u201d he says. \u201cAlso, her mom was hot, so I didn\u2019t mind hanging around one bit.\u201d Heidi grows up to be an awkward, selfconscious teen, who thinks motormouth Jerome is just the voice inside her head until she accidentally falls through pond ice and drowns, discovering that there is a soul that goes along with that voice. But is Heidi really dead? Jerome\u2019s bumbling logic and wickedly funny observations are what make Brockenbrough\u2019s first book for teens so much fun.
Underneath the occasionally risqu\u00e9 humor and unexpected plot twists (including the possession of multiple animals\u2019 bodies) is an insightful story about seizing life for all it\u2019s worth while you have the chance. Ages 12–up. - Jill Corcoran, the Herman Agency

Review: 'Devine Intervention' shows there's life in afterlifeMartha Brockenbrough's young adult debut is a snarky but sweet tale of teen angels in training.
By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2012
In Martha Brockenbrough's heaven, old people show too much leg playing leap frog, and the church choir covers classic rock. Clearly, Brockenbrough is not a follower of the New Testament.
That's good news for heathen readers who will delight in the author's absurdist take on the after life in her devilishly riotous young adult debut, \u0022Devine Intervention.\u0022 Steeped in the heavenly tropes of guardian angels and lost souls, \u0022Devine Intervention\u0022 is a satire in the vein of Libba Bray's \u0022Beauty Queens,\u0022 only with a decidedly sacrilegious twist.
It opens with a page from a handbook that is sent, upon death, to select members of SRPNT—the Soul Rehab Program for Nefarious Teens (Deceased) — in an effort to combat the \u0022growing problem of crowding in the lower levels of Hell.\u0022 One of those teens is a 17-year-old named Jerome, who had the misfortune of being punctured in the forehead by a friend's wayward arrow and finds himself at the pearly gates that are festooned with motivational posters and guarded by a man with \u0022a mustache the size of a harmonica.\u0022
Jerome reacts as any dead teen would when denied immediate entrance and given specific rules to follow to reclaim his soul. He misplaces the handbook and proceeds to violate its Ten Commandments for the Dead.
Among his soul rehab assignments was playing guardian angel to 16-year-old Heidi, but the one time he was really needed, Jerome was too busy yukking it up with a fellow SRPNT member to prevent Heidi from walking across a frozen pond and falling through the ice to her death. Now Heidi and Jerome are both in soul limbo.
The two are quite the odd couple. Heidi is a \u0022not hot ... cross-dressing lumberjack,\u0022 according to one of the book's uncharitable bit players. Jerome is a sexually frustrated virgin. But in death, their relationship is like an old marriage — more familiar than romantic, as well as conflicted, especially once Heidi realizes Jerome may have jeopardized her soul through sheer laziness.
They do have one thing in common that's likely to resonate with the book's intended audience. Neither Jerome nor Heidi felt loved by friends or family or were especially true to themselves when living. Death allows them to witness loved ones from another plane like a scene from Charles Dickens' \u0022A Christmas Carol.\u0022 Seeing others grieve their absence builds the self esteem of these troubled souls and brings some emotional heft to a story where comedy dominates.
\u0022Devine Intervention\u0022 is told in chapters that volley between a third-person perspective on Heidi and first-person narratives about Jerome. While both perspectives are written with searingly inventive humor, it's Jerome's voice that will have readers flipping pages as quickly as they can turn them to see what he'll have to say next.
Brockenbrough is a gifted writer who finds amusement in focusing on life's minutiae and who captures the slow-mo drama with which teens experience them, such as the time when Heidi's \u0022tongue felt like a lump of nasty cotton living in the armpit of a bum who has an apartment at the dump and not even the good kind of dump with busted car parts. The kind with fish heads ... and old transvestite wigs.\u0022
It is a pleasure to read a writer who so delights in language, and who writes so captivatingly in a teen voice with such imaginative description.
The story isn't without its flaws, however. The timeline of certain scenes is confusing, including the lead-up to the book's conclusion, which sees Heidi's fading soul morph in and out of a dog's body. But for readers who appreciate an apocryp

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
An introductory page in this novel is from The Guardian Angel's Handbook: Soul Rehab Edition, and advises the reader he/she has been selected for membership in SRPNT: The Soul Rehabilitation Program for Nefarious Teens (Deceased). This is followed by Chapter 1, Subsection ii: The Ten Commandments for the Dead. What could possibly follow in the ensuing pages? "Thou shalt not complain about being dead" is the First Commandment. The reader then takes a journey with 17-year-old Heidi Devine as she travels this road, and learns whether or not she can make things right. When her guardian angel, Jerome Hancock, is not able to save her from drowning in a frozen lake, he tries to save her soul. Jerome, however, has his own problems. The least of which is he had violated too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead, and has too many absences from his assigned work. Can he help Heidi so her soul won't be lost forever? The teen and probationary angel make a terrific team in this endeavor. This debut novel has amusing and poignant moments as these less than perfect souls try to gain redemption. It is an excellent read about second chances. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Everything Jerome Hancock touches ends in disaster—even in the afterlife. His 17-year-old soul was a firebrand in life and, for the last 16 years, has been in Soul Rehab. Depending on his success in the program, he can either earn a spot in Heaven or descend into one of the nine levels of Hell, which range from Level I: Everlasting Standardized Testing for the Ungrateful to Level IX, where people are reborn as maggots. His future depends on how successful he is as Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Heidi has been hearing his voice in her head since she was a child and as a teen she thinks she's having "auditory hallucinations." Jerome is certain that he's going to Hell, especially after Heidi falls through thin ice and drowns while he is distracted by a devious angel. The plot thickens as the antihero helps Heidi make sense of her life and regrets and tries to discern why her soul hasn't moved on. Told from Heidi's and Jerome's alternating perspectives, the chapters are introduced by and/or interspersed with commandments and sections from Jerome's Guardian Angel Handbook: Soul Rehab Edition. Even if the story line is a bit tired and Jerome's immaturity excessive, Brockenbrough's droll style delivers some laugh-out-loud moments. Reluctant readers will find the Heidi-Jerome dynamic entertaining and heartrending.—Jamie-Lee Schombs, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Jerome is no teen angel. A hell raiser when alive and killed by his cousin in eighth grade in an unfortunate archery accident, he has spent his afterlife in Soul Rehab assigned to Heidi in an attempt to win his way into Heaven. Not that he's very committed to the notion; he lost his "Guardian Angel's Handbook" pretty much right away, but he sort of tries. Heidi has more or less enjoyed Jerome's company, though he could sometimes be annoying. When Heidi, having experienced unendurable humiliation in a high-school talent show, ventures onto thin ice and falls through, Jerome does his best to save her soul--as much for her own sake, he's surprised to find, as for his. Brockenbrough devises a devilishly clever narrative, alternating Jerome's first-person account with Heidi's tightly focused third-person perspective. Tying both together are commandment-by-commandment excerpts (often footnoted) from Jerome's lost handbook, each stricture slyly informing the succeeding chapter. The rules governing Jerome's afterlife lead to frequently hysterical prose. He can't swear, of course, so he substitutes euphemisms: "… if I weren't so chickenchevy"; "It was a real mind-flask." Beneath the snark, though, runs a current of devastatingly honest writing that surprises with its occasional beauty and hits home with the keenness of its insight. As the clock ticks down on Heidi's soul, readers will be rooting for both Jerome and Heidi with all their hearts. (Paranormal adventure. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545382137
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/01/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
948,347
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.04(d)
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author


Martha Brockenbrough has worked as a newspaper reporter, a high school teacher, and as editor of MSN.com. She is a devoted grammarian, and founded National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG). Martha is also the social media diva for readergirlz, the nonprofit literacy organization that received the Innovations in Reading Award from the National Book Foundation. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and their two daughters.

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