Chaltas's novel of poems marks an intensely powerful debut. Anke and her older siblings, Darren and Yaicha, may appear typical teenagers in public, but their home life is dominated by their father. Though he is verbally, physically and sexually abusive to her brother and sister, Anke seems beyond his notice ("with a sick/ acidic/ burbling/ bile/ i want what they have/ as horrible/ curdling/ vile/ as it is/ darren and yaicha/ get more/ than/ me"). The distance between the family members-separated by their silence-is palpable, as is Anke's growing sense of strength, partly due to her participation in volleyball at school ("My lungs are claiming expanding territory./ This is my voice./ This is MY BALL"). Though the pace is quick, tension builds slowly, almost agonizingly, as acts of abuse collect (a large bruise glimpsed on Darren's torso, muffled sounds from Yaicha's room that can't be tuned out). Readers will recognize the inevitability of an explosive confrontation, but the particulars will still shock. Incendiary, devastating, yet-in total-offering empowerment and hope, Chaltas's poems leave an indelible mark. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Because I Am Furnitureby Thalia Chaltas
Anke’s father is abusive to her brother and sister. But not to her. Because, to him, she is like furniture— not even worthy of the worst kind of attention. Then Anke makes the school volleyball team. She loves feeling her muscles after workouts, an ache that reminds her she is real. Even more, Anke loves the confidence that she gets from the sport. And as she learns to call for the ball on the court, she finds a voice she never knew she had. For the first time, Anke is making herself seen and heard, working toward the day she will be able to speak up loud enough to rescue everyone at home— including herself.
Gr 7 Up
Anke, a high school freshman, is the only one of her siblings to escape her father's physical or sexual abuse as her mother cowers in denial. Anke is relieved, guilt-ridden, and jealous, as he hardly acknowledges her existence. She joins the volleyball team against his wishes. As she learns to make herself heard on the court, she builds the courage to out her father's abuses. While the first 10 poems or so of this novel in verse are maudlin and overwritten, Chaltas settles mercifully into subtler character development. The story picks up pace in tandem, and even reluctant readers will plow through it as moderate tension builds. Though her arc from mouse to lion is predictable, Anke's narrative and voice are increasingly affecting. Few of the poems here are legitimately poetic, but several hit in both rhythm and emotion. The verse in which Anke measures the plausibility of living in the bathroom is among the best-all show and no tell. A lack of background details leaves readers as untethered as the narrator, and the story feels generic instead of stark. Anke's father and mother are completely without pathos, unilaterally monstrous and meek, respectively. Because I Am Furniture is an uneven though occasionally moving addition to the genre.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Read an Excerpt
I am always there.
But they don’t care if I am because I am furniture.
I don’t get hit I don’t get fondled I don’t get love because I am furniture.
Suits me fine.
When the garage door goes up he’s home.
We close up conversation and scuttle off like crabs each to our room—
Shut the door.
Shut the door.
Shut the door.
Mom alone in the kitchen where she should be
before the garage door goes down and we are locked in hell.
He knocked Darren onto the linoleum.
I don’t remember his arm swing,
just Darren and his chair—
eight tangled limbs on the floor.
No reason that I could see.
But my father picked up his reasons and his plate and went to eat in the living room.
Darren picked up his chair and himself and we are now eating in customary ice-age silence.
When I was much younger Yaicha and Darren would point at my nose and say,
“You don’t look like us your nose is different you don’t belong.”
Yaicha and Darren told me that I was the mailman’s child,
and I got so angry,
hot steam in my ribs.
Yaicha and Darren told me that I was the mailman’s child
and now I am thinking how wonderful it would be to have the mailman as my father.
At times I still want to sigh,
curl into her,
nourish in her motherness,
especially when she wears that old suede jacket that smells of fall leaves, like the pliable leather armchair left outside on the back porch.
But she doesn’t welcome that.
Maybe I am not that young anymore.
And when he is there all her motherness has to be spent on him.
Oh, yay charity day visiting Angeline the Wimp.
I see her often enough at school.
Don’t want to visit her house.
Since her dad left her and her mousy mother for some bouncy secretary in Texas mom and I are here to touch base, be friendly.
Our moms met way back when we were in preschool.
Angeline irritates me—
the ocean has “man-eating seaweed”
the garden has “corn-barfing worms”
the fancy sound system has “thought-tracking speakers.”
I didn’t choose to be friends with her.
Angeline doesn’t have a father around
and my mom says she really needs one.
But not like mine.
Scrubbing my volleyball knee pads while I’m in the shower,
way too much soap,
three days of preseason training on the sly collected a hell of a stink.
The foam won’t dry out overnight.
My knees will probably froth in soap bubbles if I dare set foot in tryouts tomorrow.
Honking in the parking lot,
upperclassmen back smacking,
squeals of recognition,
a grimly nodding principal.
I’m supposed to feel something more than just rattled by the sheer number of people in the halls, right?
Except that I’ve been in and out of this building a bunch of times for years—
Darren’s debate team.
I learned my classrooms from the map,
and I just spent whole days going to volleyball training here,
so I kind of get it already.
I like school.
But excited in that jiggering-on-too-much-hot-sauce kind of way that it’s time to step out of my old framework,
raw and amorphous,
to become something I’ve never thought of before.
After school is a different story.
I wasn’t going to do it.
Even though I crave it I wasn’t supposed to try out because my father said,
“Competition is dangerous for a young girl’s mind.”
But I already like the girls from preseason training.
And that tenth-grader Rona saw me growing roots outside the locker room dangling my new volleyball sneakers bought with my own money in secret.
Rona looked me in the eye.
“You are going to put on some shorts, right?”
and as she steered me through the splintered wood door she told me about some player last year who tried out with mittens on to protect her nylon nails.
Meet the Author
As a teenager Thalia Chaltas wanted to do everything, and she envied people who knew without question what their life goal was. Thalia did preliminary training to be a kinesiologist, a helicopter pilot, and a fire fighter, and has at times been a bus driver, a ropes course instructor, and a contralto in an a capella group. Along the way she has played lots of volleyball, written poetry, and collected children’s books. And eventually, that anvil fell from the sky and she realized writing was what all this previous intensive training was for.
She has kept every poem she has ever written – except one. Because she can’t find it.
Thalia lives in California with her daughter. Because I Am Furniture is her first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Although this is a heavy subject, the book is easy to read. I am in awe of Chalta's storytelling; every word counts and there is no filler. We are in Anke's head, and it's not an easy place to be. She is vaguely aware of the abuse her father piles on her mother and two older siblings, but the family is in a conspiracy of silence. She understands that it's pathetic to feel left out of the abuse, but one can't help what he or she feels. Being spared means being ignored, being ignored means being worthless. I thought this would be really hard to read, and while it was it was also an empowering and hopeful book. To watch a young girl find her voice and not be afraid to use it, it was powerful. It was also interesting to see inside of this house, with all the terror and abuse that happens that no one ever say anything or ask for help. That's just the way the family was and they would rather deal with it that privately than make a change to their family. I thought the author did a great job of revealing the mentality of this family and made it easy to understand and believe. All in all a powerful and important book that really packs an emotional punch.
I am a highschool senior and i just finished reading, "Because I Am Furniture". I must admit I was really engaged throughout the entire book. The author had a very good way of explaining everything that was going on so that you could have a better visual of what exactly you are reading. I mostly enjoyed the beginning and ending for various reasons. I greatly enjoyed the beginning because of the way it is written. The author did a really nice job of luring in her readers. In my opinion, this book is definitely a page flipper. I enjoyed the ending for the reason that it is an unexpected ending. Not the usual ending when you can guess what is going to happen. I also like d this book because it really opens your eyes to things that you may not realize or see in your own life. It can really give you a different way to view things, that maybe were not as clear to you before. Also, this book can teach people to not bully people, because you never know what someone is going through or what they have been through just by looking at them. All in all, I would recommend this book to teenagers or people in their early twenties, because that is the age that I would assume to be most interested in this type of read. Also, I recommend you read, "Because I Am Furniture," if you are looking for some good life lessons and a different perspective on life! It will teach you that even though you do not believe that you have the power or strength to do something big, if you search deep down inside of you, you have the power to do anything you want! Read this book if you are looking for an inspirational read!
This novel is written in verse. It is a Young Adult book, yet Old Adults will be moved by it as well. It is not depressing. The author moves you through so many emotions common to many teens. I've read it three times and each time something new catches my attention. "Eight tangled legs" is such a strong visual for the brother knocked off his chair by the father. There are many others just like this that call all our senses into play. I feel as if I know Anke inside out because she has such a strong voice. Any high school teacher wanting to teach voice in writing should use this book and the author's blog http://epiphanista.blogspot.com/ This is an author to watch for more great novels in the future. She has a gift of speaking/writing just like a teen, yet with imagery and vocabulary that is sophisticated enough for adults. I also recommend this book to teens who find it hard to get through a book. It has lots of white space; can be picked up and put down easily because each poem is a mini story in itself.
Thalia Chaltas surely did not want to waste any time to introduce the readers to the plot of the book. Because I Am Furniture starts off quickly; as the reader understands the presence of an abusive relationship Anke and her siblings have with their father. Right off the bat, it can be told that the novel is extremely haunting as well as interesting. However, it seems to drag the rest of the way. Not much was added to the plot going into the second and even third part of the book. Because I Am Furniture then swiftly picks up again by the end of the book, where Anke reaches her breaking point and finally stands up for herself as well as her loved ones. Even though the novel is over three hundred pages long, it is written in verses; making it an easy read. Thalia Chaltas uses many literary devices throughout the novel, making it easier for people to understand and relate to. For example, hundreds of similes and metaphors can be found within Because I Am Furniture. Many people in society today do not read very frequently, however this novel can surely be a crowd pleaser. This novel makes you feel emotions you did not you could feel. It made me think about the relationships I have, and how they affect my thoughts and emotions. Because I Am Furniture is definitely a novel that will change your perspective on life. I have not read any other books from Thalia Chaltas but I will be searching them up very soon. If you are looking for a phenomenal book, Because I Am Furniture is perfect. Many lessons can be learned by simply reading this inspiring novel. I am pleased with my choice of reading this book and surely you will be to.
I don't read much verse novels. But this one was really good, sad but good.
Because I am Furniture is about one girls hardships living in a house with an abusive father. The narrator Anke, does not get abused by her father while her brother and sister get abused every day. Her mom is a victim of her father and doesn't want to do anything to disappoint him. This makes Anke feel invisible, like a piece of furniture. Joining the volleyball team at her high school gives Anke the voice she needs to save her family and help her realize she is loved and appreciated, unlike a piece of furniture. Anke holds patchy memories of a time when her family loved and cherished each other. A time when her father wasn't a monster. Anke is pushed to the edge when she walks in on her father trying to sexually assault her friend, Angie. This gives Anke the courage to stand up to her father and say the things that everyone else is too afraid to say to him. To find out what happens as a result, you must read this book. This is one of my favorite books and I love Thalia Chaltas's writing style. She makes you want to read more and more and never put the book down until you've finished. I really enjoyed this book. One of the main reasons why is because it was written in poetry form which left out all the minor details and really gripped you with the emotion that was expressed. The book evokes so many emotions that there is never a part in the book I didn't like. Reading Because I am Furniture, made me realize how lucky I am. If you enjoy reading about suspense, struggle, and bravery, I recommend that you read this book. This book is appropriate for high school students and older, due to language and graphic details.
Certainly not the best book I've read. Definitely not the best. I hate the poem structure to it. It has a too convenient ending. I felt like many of the poems had nothing to do with the story Thalia was trying to tell. I didn't find it realistic at all, and there aren't enough elements to make it seem like it's not trying to be realistic. All in all, I wouldn't buy it. If you want to read it, borrow it from a library.
This book is a phenomal inspiration towards the act of standing up for what's right. The reality of living in a family that's on the verge of breaking apart is revelant to our modern society today. Readers feel sparks of excitement as Anke(the main character of the book), a girl whose voice was suppressed, gradually grows into a visible person who knows when to say, "STOP!" Because I Am Furniture is a book that'll create an everlasting impact on our moral beliefs of family and finding one's voice.
I was in B&N today planning on buying it, but I decided to sit down and read a little. Next thing I knew, maybe two hours later, I finished the story. I loved it. It was fast to read, entertaining, and an emotional read. I kept reading because I wanted to find out more about her and the characters. I became involved with her and the story. I highly recommend it.
This book is about a freshmen girl Anke who is a star on the volleyball team but at home she goes unnoticed and strives for some form of attention. Her father treats her like she is a piece of old useless furniture. Her brother and sister are abused but she can't get any attention even if it is abuse. This all changes when she is on the court, volleyball gives her a voice in the game and out of the game. The book really teaches you a lesson about how abuse affects people and the difficulty they have to speak up about it especially when their life's are constantly put on the line. It almost gives you an inside look on how much it rules peoples life's but it gives you hope too because it shows you there is a way to get out and overcome it. I really enjoyed this book one of the main reasons why is because it was written in poetry form which left out all the minor details and really gripped you with the emotion that was expressed. All throughout the book i didn't have any time that i didn't like it because it evoked so many emotions.
Anke lives in a house full of fear. Fear of her father. His temper can flair at any moment and everyone around him suffers. Anke's brother and sister take the physical abuse and Anke is, for the most part, ignored in the house. She feels she has no choice but to sit back and witness what is going on around her. Sometimes she even feels jealous of the attention her brother and sister get, no matter how horrible that attention is. Anke has one bright spot in her day - volleyball. Against her father's wishes, she tries out and makes the team. Volleyball gives Anke confidence and a small circle of friends. At the beginning of the school year, Anke develops a crush on Kyler, a tall, blonde soccer player. She tries to be where he is during the school day and hopes to attract his attention. She also has a confusing relationship with Jed, a boy who lives across the street. Between her family's dynamics, volleyball, school, and boys, Anke has a lot on her mind. Will she ever get the courage to say something about the abuse at home? BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE is written in verse. It doesn't take long to read and although the subject matter is very serious, the point of view is coming from an onlooking Anke so it isn't graphic. It's a good read, but the ending wraps up a little too quickly and there is a loose end that will leave you wondering about one of her relationships.
I loved this book it makes you realize how good how have it when u c or in this case hear about what other people have to go through in life. This boook is good when you r feeling lost or sad when you feel lke you have nothing and the whole world is against you.AMAZING BOOKK!!!!!!!!!!