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VOYA -Through twenty-eight slice-of-life poems, Grimes tells a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story that comes alive with stunning black-and-white drawings by Angelo. Readers new to poetry will recognize a rhyme pattern in most of the poems, but will be pleasantly surprised at the unexpected themes found within. The poems describe the emotional highs and lows that a young girl, aged probably eleven to fifteen, experiences as her parents go through divorce.
The first set of poems portrays a contented child, but foreshadows the oncoming crisis. In "Handel," the young girl describes her father playing the violin: "he shatters heaven's crystal floor with melody"; the last line of "Hopscotch" is "I'll keep my dad, I think." Her feelings for her father then begin to contradict. In "Self," she claims to "want to be like my old man," yet in "Daddy's Promise" she wonders "if or when [he]'d learn to keep [his] promises." As the young girl's relationship with her father changes for the worse, her ties to her mother strengthen. In "Gin Rummy," she confesses "I'm honestly my happiest when Mother lets me win a hand or two of gin." This simple, yet thought-provoking poetry collection makes a wonderful high interest/low reading level choice.
VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).