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Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough

Devine Intervention

by Martha Brockenbrough

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Romances with angels, seraphim, and a heavenly host of other celestial beings have overpopulated YA fiction so much that, judging the book by its cover, it would be easy to overlook Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough. And what a loss that would be, because this book is wicked funny, with strong characterizations, expressive writing—and surprise, no romance! A quick plot summary: Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine’s guardian angel, only she doesn’t know that. Heidi thinks Jerome is an auditory illusion until the day he accidentally separates her soul from her body while attempting to save her life. Now, Jerome has to find a way to save Heidi’s soul, because thanks to him, Heidi has less than 24 hours before she vaporizes into nonexistence.
Ah, Jerome. Eternally seventeen, he cares deeply for Heidi despite his devil-may-care attitude in the afterlife. His clearly drawn character and charmingly snarky narrative make him easy to like in spite of his poor judgment. Jerome’s creative cursing substitutions alone are reason enough to read the book. Heidi, meanwhile, is an insecure and awkward teenage girl passively living the life others set for her. An obedient daughter, accommodating friend and likeable human under Jerome’s questionable care, Heidi finally learns to trust herself as she frantically races against time in order to say a last goodbye to her family and best friend.
This is an original and clever story that takes the religion out of Heaven and instead, makes it a relatable teen setting, with soul rehab rooms, Guardian Angel handbooks, and classic rock songs sung by the heavenly choir. Amidst the trauma and hilarity of Jerome and Heidi’s predicament is a heartfelt message of love: for our family, our friends, and most importantly, for ourselves. ( )
  lillibrary | Jan 23, 2016 |
Martha Brockenbrough’s young adult paranormal début Devine Intervention turned out to be an extremely funny, heartwarming read. With an unforgettable teenage male lead in Jerome and a happy ending with a twist, this fast-paced story will have you wondering what your guardian angel would be telling you if they weren’t following Rule #2 of the Ten Commandments of the Dead (“Thou Shalt Not Engage In Discourse With The Living”).

Heidi Devine has always heard a young male voice in her head, singing classic rock and giving bad advice. Little does she know that the voice belongs to her very own guardian angel, Jerome Hancock, a member of SRPNT – the Soul Rehabilitation Program for Nefarious Teens (Deceased). These young guardians are working towards Heaven one soul at a time, and Heidi is Jerome’s only chance at redemption. Too bad he’s not paying attention when tragedy strikes! Now Jerome must come up with a plan to help Heidi before her soul is lost forever.

I loved the way Martha Brockenbrough structured her story. Mixing first-person narrative (Jerome) with third-person (Heidi), and then dropping in excerpts from Jerome’s “Guardian Angel’s Handbook: Soul Rehab Edition” (copyright by Heavenly Industries, LLC – of course!) in between chapters, we quickly realize this is not your average YA paranormal. We also have flashbacks, as Jerome recalls his life and the events that landed him into the SRPNT program and Heidi looks back at all the times Jerome has been beside her, as well as a countdown timer ticking down the hours Heidi has left before disappearing forever. You might think with all the switching between first- and third-person, flashbacks, and countdowns that it would be difficult to follow the story, but Brockenbrough has a light and easy style that keeps everything flowing smoothly and cleanly with plenty of laughs along the way.

Jerome is one of the most original male leads I’ve come across recently. He is not the gorgeous, strong, intellectual hero we see so much of these days. Instead he is an adolescent boy who is not the brightest bulb on the tree, but whose heart is in the right place. He would never be held up as an example to other young men; when he was alive he drank, swore, and cared more about his female teacher’s chest than her brains. But he is earnest in his endeavors to take care of Heidi and protect her from danger. From the day he was assigned to her, he has watched over her, talked to her, sung to her, and been her friend. When tragedy strikes, he does everything he can to help her, including hunting down the handbook he tossed aside so long ago and racing against time to get her back to where she needs to be. Will his efforts pay off? Not in the way I expected!

I think many teenage girls will relate to Heidi. Uncomfortable in her own skin, struggling with acceptance from her peers, and engaging in certain activities because it is expected of her (Tall? You must play basketball!) instead of the art she loves so well, Heidi feels like a normal girl with normal problems. When she finally meets the boy behind the voice that has been talking to her through the years, however, she really starts to shine. At first lost and confused by what has happened, she tags along with Jerome trying to figure out how to fix what has gone terribly wrong. But when she and Jerome have a parting of the ways (there is no fury like a girl who thinks she’s been wronged), Heidi takes action and comes up with a rather ingenious temporary solution to her problem. She is very much the opposite of Jerome – intelligent, quiet, a good girl who doesn’t swear or drink. The only things they have in common are big hearts and a friendship years in the making.

The conversations between these two characters are funny and insightful. I particularly enjoyed a discussion involving what qualifies a soul for entry to Heaven; Jerome was a bit vague on the details, but his grasp of the “big picture” made a wonderful kind of sense. As these two characters work their way through their problem and reflect on their short lives, they begin to realize what life is all about and what they have been missing out on – and they want that for each other. Moments of pain and regret mixed with the humor give a feeling of substance to the lessons learned. Although there is a bit of an attraction between Jerome and Heidi, this is not really a romance. It’s more about caring for others, helping them the best way you can, and living life to the fullest – although actually reading any handbooks you are given along the way might make your job easier.

Secondary characters are as interesting as our two leads. Jerome has been paired up with Howard in the SRPNT program, but they couldn’t be more different. Howard is a brainiac computer nerd with sociopathic tendencies who wants to conduct a little science experiment with Heidi as the subject matter. I think he may just be one of SRPNT’s eventual failures. Heidi’s best friend Megan is outgoing, brash, and stands up for what she believes in, while dragging Heidi along for the ride. And when Heidi comes to her for help – in a very unorthodox manner – Megan is there for her. She may be a drama queen, but she is a solid friend. Some characters are more developed than others (I especially enjoyed Jerome’s angel mentors, Gabriel and Xavier), but each has a unique voice that makes it easy to differentiate between them when they appear.

As I mentioned previously, this is not exactly a romance and no where is this more noticeable than the ending. While I don’t want to spoil anything, I do want to say that things did not end quite the way I expected. If you are looking for the next great YA paranormal romance, then this is not your story. But if you want a happy ending that is a bit different from the norm and fits perfectly with the insights gained by Jerome and Heidi, then Devine Intervention delivers. The only thing I would have liked to have added was a quick glimpse into the future to see where Heidi and Jerome ended up, just to satisfy my own curiosity.

With it’s extremely humorous twist on the guardian angel premise, a hero unlike any other, and an intelligent heroine who can think outside the box, Martha Brockenbrough’s début young adult paranormal novel Devine Intervention is a fast and entertaining read for those looking for something a bit different in the angel genre. The alternating points of view helped me get to know Jerome and Heidi, the brisk pace and comedic moments kept me engaged throughout, and the lessons learned by the two leads are ones anyone can benefit from. Here’s hoping Martha Brockenbrough continues to provide an insightful and original voice to the young adult genre. ( )
  eomalley | Apr 13, 2013 |
Read my full review HERE ( )
  Punkfarie | Mar 30, 2013 |
Read my full review HERE ( )
  Punkfarie | Mar 29, 2013 |
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! ( )
  thekams | Jul 29, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545382130, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:23 -0400)

To graduate from heaven's soul rehabilitation program for wayward teenagers, guardian angel Jerome must keep sixteen-year-old Heidi safe, but when he accidentally lets her down, he has only twenty-four hours before her soul dissolves forever.

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