My words cannot do justice to this book. It is simply astounding in its beauty, clarity, and truth.
David Levithan captures a great deal of what high school is about beyond academicsin a story and character-study in free verse of 20 high school students, their lives, their loves, and their struggles.
This book almost requires you to read it twice. In the first go-through, you get to know each of the characters and their styles, and in the second, you can start to make more connections, once you have a bit of a grasp on everybody. Here are three of my favorite parts.
Not only is all of the writing beautiful and spot-on, but the construction of this book as a whole was clearly a thoughtful process. The order of the pieces seems just right, especially the choices of first and last poems, and how those worked.
I saw my own high school self and even some of my college self in more than one of these students, and I highly, highly recommend this book not only to high schoolers themselves, but to parents and especially to teachers, who often seem like they don’t remember what high school was like at all, navigating the difficult social web and balancing all sorts of responsibilities outside the classroom.
Another reason, too, that this is important for teachers or parents to read is that issues of LGBTQ identity, mental illness, teenage sexuality, problems of home life, and other things touched on in this book are so much more open and recognized now than they may have been when teachers or parents were in school themselves. These are critical for adults who care about teens to understand and be mindful of.
As alluded to above, I would provide content/trigger warnings for drugs, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses.
22 / 50 Books in 2013