Saturday, February 04, 2017

Ask Me How I Got Here, by Christine Heppermann

Addie's story of terminating her unwanted pregnancy and the aftermath of her decision gains that certain pathos through verse that could only have been achieved in prose with lots of ellipses.  Verse is the perfect way to tell a story where the heroine doesn't really know what she feels and grows easily anxious over that reluctance.

The most original part of this story, is the way that Heppermann explores not just abortion, but the way that other people try to oversimplify the experience. She does an excellent job of exposing this through both the meddling boyfriend (and potential father) and the well-meaning (but clueless) student-activist.  Messing the waters a bit are the matters of Addie's changing tastes in pastimes and her evolving sexual orientation.  Catholicism, as usual, does not come off particularly well.

With verse novels, the temptation to grow overly precious is a major risk.  And rather than allow myself to be sucked in by the easy final poignant phrase, I focus on the quality of the verse itself (in particular, if any of the pieces can stand on its own) and on the originality of the thoughts.  While there are a few standout pieces, for the most part the verse is high-school notebook-level stuff -- pretty, but not terribly deep.  On the idea front, Heppermann does better.  I particularly enjoyed Addie's snarky comments about the Bible (guaranteed to offend religious people with thin skins, they are just the sort of doubt that I always find vital for faith).

It was a fast read.  Combined with a decent subject, some good ideas, and competent writing, this is enjoyable stuff.  Not a classic, but certainly not bad.

No comments: