Title: Devine Intervention
Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub. Date: 1 June 2012
Review Disclosure: This book was sent to me as an unsolicited advanced copy, courtesy of the author. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a prior acquaintance relationship with the author.
Let me start this entire thing with a simple statement – I really do not read much Young Adult fiction (or “YA” as it is frequently referred to in the book blog-o-sphere). That does not mean that I somehow assign a lesser importance or role the entirety of YA. To be clear, I would not be the book lover I am today had I not been exposed to truly great books designed with a young adult audience in mind.
So when I was sent an advance copy of Devine Intervention from Martha Brockenbrough, I was a bit nervous about reading it. It was not because I thought the book would be bad. It was because I was a little afraid that I would not, for lack of a better way of saying it, “get it”.
As I alluded to in a review of Martha’s grammar book, Things That Make Us [Sic], I have been reading her articles and essays all over MSN for years. I am a fan, to be blunt, of her clever and humorous way of writing about everything from grammar to discussions of gender roles in relation to The Hunger Games. I had every reason to believe that I would enjoy her book. But at the same time, I wanted to be able to enjoy it in a way that spoke to me on a deeper level than simply enjoying her writing style.
Thankfully, my fears were put to rest by the time I finished Devine Intervention. The bonus was that I learned a little something about myself as a reader. I had been so caught up in my fears over reading YA again that I forgot a very vital principle — the “audience” a book may be aimed at will matter little if the story is good. There was no need to think that I would not “get it”.
Speaking of a good story…(how’s that for a transition)?
Devine Intervention follows the story of two teenagers — one dead and one living — finding their way in their respective worlds. Jerome Hancock is a soul in rehabilitation; which is to say, he is serving as a trainee guardian angel in order to finally gain entry into heaven. Like most teenagers, he takes things for granted, pays little attention to rules, and does things his own way without thinking too much about consequences. It is because of his typical teenage boy non-thinking that he manages to get himself (and by extension, others) into trouble.
Heidi Devine, who is a junior in high school, is the soul that Jerome has been assigned to look after. Because he doesn’t follow so many of his rules, she is a little too aware of him…but more as an “imaginary friend” than a guardian angel. In fact, all she really knows is that she hears a “voice” named Jerome in her head that she finds simultaneously comforting and infuriating, often making her feel a little crazy. She longs to be an artist, even sketching all over her jeans, to her parents’ dismay. Heidi’s tall and lanky frame instead lands her on the basketball team, something her heart is just not in.
The journey these two take separately, and then together for a time, is endearing. While Jerome’s ultimate goal at first is to not get himself in more trouble, he gradually realizes what the consequences to not taking his soul “rehabilitation” seriously enough means. Once he makes that realization, he learns what it takes to be truly responsible for another human being, and care more about their welfare than having fun or doing whatever he wants. He comes into his own by the end of the story, putting Heidi before himself, and averting disaster.
I loved the characters in this book. They were not overly angst-y (if that makes any sense), they were normal teenagers who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The “paranormal” aspect of the book is used more as a device to help drive the story, rather than the paranormal functioning as its own character. In fact, the book could almost work without one of the characters being an angel.
In any case, I would recommend this to pretty much anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope that Ms. Brockenbrough continues writing novels.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend this to…well…everyone.
More from Martha Brockenbrough:
On twitter: @mbrockenbrough