The premise of Repossessed hooked me right away. Repossessed, by A. M. Jenkins, is about a fallen angel named Kiriel who, after spending thousands of years overseeing sufferers in Hell, decides that he needs a vacation. After some monitoring of individuals, he takes possession of the about-to-be-vacated body of a teenage slacker named Shaun (right before Shaun would have stepped in front of a truck).
Kiriel, experiencing life through a body for the first time, is determined to have as many tactile experiences as he can, before the higher-ups track him down and remove him from Shaun's body. Repossessed is about Kiriel's experience of the human world and the way it changes him, as well as the impact that he has on Shaun's family and friends.
Repossessed was named a Printz Honor Book and an ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults. I found it a very quick read, and I think that it would make an excellent pick for reluctant young adult readers, especially boys. Kiriel's voice is unusual and compelling, a combination of world-weary knowledge and fresh-eyed wonder. Although he has access to lots of information about the people around him, he doesn't know basic things about human interactions. This combination allows him to cut right to the heart of things that others might avoid, while leaving him baffled in some contexts.
The first line of Repossessed pulls you right in:
"First thing I did was, I stole a body. I could have made my own, but I wasn't in an artistic frame of mind." (Page 1)
Other passages reveal Kiriel's viewpoint, clearly quite different from Shaun's, like this one:
"There was a white scar on his forehead that he'd received from falling off a swing when he was a child. I'd never heard him say why he chose to wear his hair on his face, but now I wondered if he was trying to hide the scar.
I rather liked it. How wonderful, to bear evidence of an event that must have been packed with emotion! How satisfying, to always have a physical token of something you'd experienced." (Page 20)
"Shaun, of course, never noticed anything out of the ordinary about Lane. I felt sure that if he'd thought about her at all, he would have been critical of her wide hips, flat chest, and large nose.
Shaun never was the sharpest tool in the shed." (Page 56)
Repossessed does have quite a few sexual references. This is a book about someone experiencing a human body for the first time, a male teenage human body no less. These references frequently add humor to the book. There's also a certain matter-of-factness to Kiriel's viewpoint that almost amounts to innocence. He's not looking to exploit anyone -- he just wants to take advantage of an important human experience. Still, it's not a book for pre-teens.
Repossessed is a book that, while remaining light years away from preachy, encourages readers to appreciate life -- to bask in the tactile experiences around them, and to look more closely at the strengths and unique characteristics of other individuals. To accomplish that at all is quite an achievement. To do it in a witty, accessible YA novel is downright remarkable. Highly recommended for high school readers and up.
Publication Date: May 2007
Source of Book: Bought it with a Christmas gift-card
Other Blog Reviews: Tripping Toward Lucidity, Teen Scene at Cleve J. Fredricksen Library, The Book Muncher, Lady_Schrapnell
Author Interviews: YA Authors Cafe, Cynsations
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.