Book Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
How do you define yourself? By your friends? Your family? Your boyfriend? Your grades? Your trophies? Your choices? By a single choice? From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Applescomes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins will find the powerful questions, the difficult truths, and the inner strength that speak to them in Ask Me How I Got Here.
Addie has always known what she was running toward, whether in cross country, in her all-girls Catholic school, or in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night, and she gets pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross country anymore; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit.
Well, that summary up there is pretty thorough. It tells you both everything you need to know and nothing. It doesn’t really convey how absolutely stunning the writing is. Or how honest the story feels. Or how fantastic Addie’s own poems are. It doesn’t really hint that the story takes a rather unexpected turn. It doesn’t tell you how supportive and great her parents are, or how generally supportive and great her boyfriend is.
Can you tell I loved this story?
Sometimes I read a book and it’s so glaringly obvious that this is an adult writing a teenager—nothing feels natural or genuine or believable about the teen voice. That isn’t the case here. Addie shines as a “real” teenager. She’s secretive and touchy and honest and curious. She makes a choice that she isn’t willing to allow to define her, then learns that the things that define her are changing. A gorgeous, smart, achingly real look at the things that make us who we are and reminds us that who we are is always changing.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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