Hidden by Helen Frost

As an eight-year-old, Wren Abbott is unknowingly kidnapped by a man who steals her mother’s car while Wren is hiding in the backseat. Wren spends several days trapped in the man’s garage, secretly aided by his daughter, Darra. Wren escapes, and believes the ordeal is behind her; however, six years later, Darra and Wren re-enter each other’s lives at a summer camp. Through Frost’s powerful verse, the two must confront their shared past, and discover that long-believed “truths” may not be exactly as them seem.

This book was incredible! Frost’s verse is flowing and powerful, sucking you in from the very first page. Plus, the plot-line is amazing — girl is kidnapped and then happens to run into the daughter of her kidnapper at summer camp? Very dramatic. I especially like that Frost lets you see how things unfold from both characters’ points of view — there is no clear “right” or “wrong”. It’s all gray matter. You’re free to interpret every detail exactly as you’d like.

The novel is short. Too short, in my opinion. I definitely wanted more — more back-story, more about what happens after the “ending”, more poems! However, it’s short length does make for an extremely quick read, so if you’re not a fan of long books, this one is definitely for you. You’ll read it in one sitting!

*VOYA “Perfect 10’s” List, 2012

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis, including flags and SPOILERS, click here.

October Mourning by Lesléa Newman

Using varying points of view, ranging from inanimate objects (such as the fence Shepard was tied to, and the clothesline that bound him) to strangers’ reactions to his murder, Newman recounts the horrific beating and ultimate death of Matthew Shepard. Shepard was attending the University of Wyoming when he was lured from a bar one night by two other students, driven to a deserted road, beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. Newman tells Shepard’s story using unique, emotional poems, sending a strong message of tolerance, and solidifying the fact that what happened to Matthew must never happen again.

Newman presents emotional, provocative poems about the murder of Matthew Shepard. While the loss of Matthew occurred almost 20 years ago, I don’t feel that our society has fully evolved out of the hatred toward the GLBT community. Newman presents a powerful message — that hatred can lead to irreversible consequences, Consequences easily avoided with tolerance and love. I thought this was an excellent and unique tribute to Shepard, with my only criticism being that I wanted more poems from the point of view of people, rather than inanimate objects.

*This one just made YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound list!!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

 

Told using free-verse, first-person narrative poetry, Hopkins relates the disturbing story of twins, Raeanne and Kayleigh, sisters plagued by a dark family secret. Following an alcohol-related car accident when the girls were young, the twins witness the dissolution of their family life, and the beginning of abuse. Each twin deals with the trauma in her own way – Kayleigh with denial, and Raeanne with rebellion – but the two must come together in the end to overcome their demons.

This is the kind of book that hits you straight in the face, no holds barred, no apologies. It’s incredibly heavy — like, really heavy — so if you have difficulty reading stories about family or child abuse, you may want to use caution with this one. The story of the twins literally haunted me for days – my stomach stayed in knots even after I finished reading. Hopkins is an amazing writer — her characters slide right off the page and into your life, and her stories refuse to loosen their grip on you. This book is no exception. I read it almost in one sitting, and could NOT stop thinking about it. Hopkins uses poetry to tell the narrate the novel, which only makes it more addictive to read. It’s simple, but doesn’t hold back. The twist in the novel took me completely by surprise — not easy to do! This is definitely not the book for you if you want a “warm fuzzy” read, but it is an incredible journey you won’t soon forget.

Rating: 5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS), click here.