Author: Ilene Cooper
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: March 15, 2011
Genre: MG, Contemporary
When Bette finds an angel coin among the money collected in a carwash, she puts it in her pocket and forgets about it. But things start to change, especially once Gabby, a mysterious and kind new neighbor, moves into Bette’s Chicago building.
Suddenly, Bette is able to face some big losses—her mother’s recent death; her sister’s departure for college—and move forward. And once the angel coin falls into the hands of three other kids in Bette’s class, their lives change, too. Soon, these two girls and two boys will be connected in ways that open them up to unlikely friendships and new ways to believe in themselves. Here is an entirely new twist on the angel trend.
Bette is lost. Since her mother’s death, she’s lost her will to sing, and she feels like she’s in a long tunnel in the dark with no true way out. Then one day, Bette remembers the unique coin she once found with an angel on it, and she sees a little light in her life again. Things begin to turn around and her life starts getting back on track. Then, we meet Joe, an angry classmate who steals her coin, and his luck begins to change, too. The cycle continues and it becomes apparent that the coin is connecting them in some sweet, magical way, and they’re finding their way back to their futures.
I don’t read too many middle-grade novels because the voices are usually too plain or too dumbed down at my age. However, when I read the premise of Angel in My Pocket, I was intrigued by the sweet and simplistic nature of the story. Ilene Cooper has created the perfect MG voice in Bette and presented four great characters that are honest and heartfelt throughout the story. Enriched with an overall theme of finding oneself, believing in the power to change and the possibility of luck, magic and friendship, Angel in My Pocket is a light, sweet and gentle but powerful read.
What really resonated with Angel in My Pocket was the undercurrent of morals and consistent, steady theme of inner strength. Bette, though a bit younger than most of the characters I read, was a great MC with a fully developed voice and story line. She had me rooting for her throughout. Even Joe, snide and unhappy, had me cheering him on. Gabby, Bette’s kind neighbor, was also powerful, and added depth and intrigue to the story. I don’t feel like I got to know Vivi or Andy, the fraternal twins, as well as the other characters, but I’m sure they’ll still resonate for other readers. I do believe it’s a strong, character and theme-driven book, as they fuel the plot.
All in all, Angel in My Pocket is a bright and positive read for all ages – even those who don’t normally read middle grade fiction. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of lower YA or Middle Grade fiction, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction with strong morals and themes.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.