Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

Title: Ask Me How I Got Here
Author: Christine Heppermann
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Source: Purchased

My Rating: 4/5

Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up 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 anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; 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. Like Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, Christine Heppermann is a voice to turn to for the truth of difficult subjects. Ask Me How I Got Here is a literary exploration of sexuality, religion, and self-discovery.

Verse novels are always a hit-or-miss for me. They can either completely immerse me in the story, or leave me feeling jarred and disjointed. For me, using verse in a novel needs to have purpose and be impacting. The words need to flow easily, lest they become choppy and distorted. Christine Heppermann's Ask Me How I Got Here is everything I hope for in a verse novel. It is touching, poignant, and moving, a must read for any young girl navigating this messy thing called life.

As most verse novels are for me, Ask Me How I Got Here was a very quick read. I flew through this story, barely glancing away from the page until I was done. There were a couple of poems that were real gems. Even though a part of the overall narrative, they stood out on their own. The writing work for me in so many ways. It was lyrical and powerful. I could feel the words seeping into my heart. It's one of those books I can see myself going back to, reading over again to feel the weight of those words.

As for the characters, Addie was really the focal point. None of the side characters I really connected with and that's okay. It wasn't their story. I appreciated how supportive Nick was of Addie, as well as how supportive her parents were. None of them knew exactly how to handle the situation, but they tried as best they could to be there for her. But, it wasn't always what Addie needed. Ask Me How I Got Here was her story, her journey, a snapshot into this moment in time and how it changed many aspects of her life. 

I appreciated how sex-positive the novel was. And how it wasn't a tragedy. Addie's abortion was something that affected her life, but didn't derail it. She was able to move forward from it, which I think is such an important thing to show in YA. She struggled to find her place in her religion, her relationships, and her future. Addie's journey is something I think many young women can relate to and a really important narrative. There is so much to unpack in this slender book. You need to read to read it for yourself to feel how impacting it is.

From a completely aesthetic point of view, this book is the whole package. The font on the cover is eye-catching and the color scheme is gorgeous. I love how representative of the book it is. Honestly, I keep staring at it! Combine that with the incredible story on the pages, I think Ask Me How I Got Here is definitely worth the buy.

A slim novel that delivers quite the punch, Ask Me How I Got Here is a powerful look at one young girl's journey through new relationships and choosing a life for herself. It wasn't a easy, light read but an important, thoughtful one I think every young woman can appreciate. I know I did. Heppermann is an author I will be keeping my eye on.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Harper Collins | Christine Heppermann 

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