UQP Young Adult Fiction

October 2001

$18.95 AU

182p pb

ISBN: 978-0702232510

The Angel Of Barbican High

Michelle A Taylor

from the book...

dear angel

I keep looking for you

just past my right shoulder

then tell myself

you fool Jez

you don't have to see to believe

Jez felt her luck had finally changed the year she left Melbourne to start Year 11 at Barbican High in Brisbane. That was the year she met Nick and when everything fell into place.

By the following summer it all changed. That's when Tommy and the angel became part of Jez's life, and her struggle to stop a terrible secret from taking over begins.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

The year Jez moves to Brisbane and starts Year 11 at Barbican High, everything finally falls into place for her. She makes friends, goes to parties, meets Nick… It is the first year Jez feels loved and supported by her friends, and with a soul mate boyfriend whom she cares about more than anything else, nothing can destroy her happiness. But the following summer, a terrible accident shatters her world, and it is Jez who is left struggling to pick up the pieces. Can Tommy and the angel save her before her grief and lies tear her soul apart?

The Angel of Barbican High is a poignant young adults novel that touches the reader on a personal level through its passion and gripping honesty. Written in verse, the raw emotion conveyed is often beautifully overwhelming, and the short, sharp phrases make for an easy yet compelling read. The novel confronts many issues that plague today’s young people, such as depression and youth suicide, and for this reason, it is one to which teenagers can easily relate.

Powerful and intense, The Angel of Barbican High weaves beautiful language into an intriguing story line, reaching to the heart of pressing youth problems with skill and emotion. I think it is important for all teenagers to read a novel such as this, as it provides answers to dilemmas that we may easily someday have to face ourselves. 

Celia, age 15, Canberra, Australia

The Angel Of Barbican High by Michelle A Taylor is written as a series of related poems. The two main characters are a Year 11 student, Jez who is experiencing tough times because of her boyfriend Nick's death and Tommy the 'nerdy' student who offers to tutor her in maths.

As soon as I began reading this book I was unable to put it down. At the very beginning of this book it gets straight into the story. The whole way through the poems were very intense and made me feel part of what Jez was feeling - pain and guilt. This book had no illustrations but by the descriptive way the author described the character's feelings and emotions  was almost like I was actually feeling what Jez was feeling and doing what she was doing!

This book is written in poetic form and therefore in a few parts of the book it was hard to follow, because when written in poetic form not every detail is included. In my opinion the ending suited this book perfectly because at the end, this book ended with I cannot stay here, in this lonely tree, I will fill my lungs, and try to fly, to fly, to fly. The reason I think this was a great ending for this particular book was because the reader had a chance to imagine what he or she thought could happen after that. Which I think is good because the whole way through this book the reader has a chance to fill in the missing pieces with what's in their imagination.

In my opinion this book is suitable for high school students or avid readers; this is because some of the words or language in this book are advanced. The layout of this book was extremely well done because the size of the text was easy to read and there were many paragraphs and sentences which made it easy to follow. I think that this book made me realise the trouble that some teenagers go through with death of friends or family members and even the troubles with alcohol. I am very glad I read this book and I would recommend this book for people who really enjoy using their imaginations.

In my opinion the best way to end my review is by sharing my favourite poem from this book. The title of this poem is Haunt

I don't give up,

On people,


Even when they're dead,

I carry them,

Like a heavy bunch,

Of keys tinkling,

In dark places,

Pockets, handbags,



For the right one,

To open the door,

Looking for,

A way in,

A way out.

Courtenay, age 13, Adelaide, Australia

The Angel of Barbican High, written by Michelle A. Taylor, is about Jez and her experiences at the high school after her boyfriend Nick dies.  It goes through all her trauma and finally her seeking the help of an angel.  From then on the angel is her lifeline.  Tommy – a loner, who spends his days in the library, comes into her life in order to tutor her in maths.  At first he’s using her for popularity and she’s using him for maths, but it soon turns to more.  It appears Jez is gradually recovering from Nick’s death, until she finally cracks.  About to take her own life – Jez is saved by Tommy with the help of her angel.  Jez and Tommy then discover that they need each other.

The book is in the category of young adult fiction.  I believe though that this book was not designed for people my age, and better suits people who are about sixteen and up.  Not only is it very complex, being a book of poems, but it’s about a seventeen-year-old girl who is in Year Eleven.  At first the poems are quite annoying, but you get used to them.  Most books are about the main character of character’s thought.  This book, however, is also told by what the main character writes.  To add to the confusion it is also told by two different people.  It is a good book, but if you’re going to read it, you’ll need to be patient.

Meredith, age 13, Canberra, Australia

The Angel of Barbican High written by Michelle A Taylor is a very moving book. It deals with the emotional rollercoaster an average Australian teenage girl, Jez, experiences when she sees her boyfriend, Nick Delaney, die in a bike crash right in front of her eyes, added to this is the fact that the circumstances he died in make her believe it is entirely her fault.

Living with immense guilt and an even greater sense of loss Jez retreats into a hermit like state of mind, trusting no one, not even herself. Jez pushes away all her friends and soon she turns to school work and asks the school nerd Tommy Tang for math tutoring, seeing her as a ticket to popularity he accepts. Jez’s inner secret starts tearing her apart and she writes to her ‘angel’ in the back of her math book, this ends in a dramatic finale.

I found this book extremely different to any other book I have ever read in its deeply serious tone that makes you appreciate those close to you, I found this a refreshing change. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend this book to anyone with a compassionate heart.

Alex, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

This is a very emotional, depressing novel where Jez struggles to survive and get her life back on track keeping a terrible secret and having to deal with the death of her boyfriend Nick who was the one to bring the brightness into her life after moving to Barbican High from Melbourne. When things seemed to go her way and when she seemed to feel fulfilled, Nick’s death drowned her smiles and introduced her to world of depression, sadness, struggle and trying not to let go of the last bits of hope.

Jez has a tough life and this is when she meets her angel, the imaginary little helper, that seems to get Jez back on track but then she fails and is left with her secret of Nick’s death and with the guilt.

Tommy’s a smart kid from her school, that used to be just one more nerd to everyone else but he and Jez develop a special friendship and he is a person Jez can talk to, and they bring positive into each others lives. From helping her with maths to personal things, to the point where she shares her secret with him, she opens her heart to him and lets go of the secret, sets the truth free and in doing so frees herself from the feeling of guilt, blaming herself for Nick’s death and her confusion and depression.

At some stages in the book things seem to get better but having your boyfriend die, dealing with the guilt, not having needed support from your crew, people making up stories and all the negatives that happens along the way ends up being something words, angels, smokes and parties can’t cure and is simply too much for a Year 11 girl who decides to let go…

I found this book really sad and I wanted Jez to keep fighting, I was impressed by the way she handled things at some points but sad and disappointed at others. The Angel of the Barbican High made me think about things from a different perspective and that is why I think this book is worth reading. I would recommend it to mature readers.

Nada, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

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