Review: Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough

Devine Intervention
by Martha Brockenbrough

ISBN-13: 9-780545-382137
Publication: June 2012 from Arthur A. Levine Books
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled on handsome wings 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.

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough is a touching story about life after death and living your life to the fullest. With memorable characters, engaging writing and a well-developed plot, Devine Intervention is a very enjoyable read.

Heidi has always heard the voice speak to her. Assumed to be an imaginary friend (but Heidi knows it’s something more, it has to be) Heidi gets the surprise of her life when she finally meets Jerome – the voice in her head. Heidi and Jerome are great characters. Jerome is Heidi’s guardian angel. He’s a teen going through soul-rehab, assigned to watch over Heidi and earn his way into Heaven (or not). Jerome is the type of guardian angel that has misplaced his handbook, breaks all the commandments for the dead (albeit unknowingly, since he didn’t read the handbook), and though he’s a bit of a screw-up, he’s loveable and smart, fun and kind. He’s had a bad go of things and Heidi’s good for him. Heidi herself goes through a lot of self-discovery over the course of the novel. She’s a loyal friend, artistic, a bit shy and very unsure of herself at times. Everything that happens to her helps her see the person she can be, and wants to be. She realizes she’s a tough cookie and to stand up for herself.

Devine Intervention on the surface is a light read about a guardian angel in soul-rehab trying to help guide and protect a living soul and the hijinks that can occur. But those hijinks are pretty dire, and they have consequences. I really liked the depth that Martha Brockenbrough inserted into the story when dealing with Jerome’s life, death and family, and how things are not always how we see them. Heidi’s journey, too, is quite profound when you really think about it. I find it refreshing how this depth of emotion and funny-sarcastic humour from Jerome interact and mesh to create a well-rounded story. Another aspect of the novel I found really neat were the passages from Jerome’s handbook, detailing the commandments for the dead and the living. It was interesting to see a new commandment and discover that it ties in to what the characters are going through in the following chapter.

I would have liked a few more details about heaven and the system set up for the souls in rehab, since our only information is seen through Jerome and he’s not the most observant at times, and the ending seemed a bit quick and confusing once Heidi and Jerome’s point of views line up and share chapter space. Overall, though, Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough is a great debut novel that encompasses a wide range of emotion and character growth. It’s not quite what I was expecting in the best of ways, and I will definitely be looking for more from Martha Brockenbrough!

ARC received at BEA from Scholastic. Hardcover received from Scholastic Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you both!

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