Title: Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes
Book Beginnings quote:
I read somewhere that names
penetrate the core of our being,
and I suppose, this is
as good a time as any to confess
my name is not the only lie
I've ever lived with, but Nikki is
the first invention for which
I accept full responsibility.
THE SCENT OF PURPLE
outside my window.
Never knew purple
could smell so good.
Comments: Ordinary Hazards is a memoir written by YA author Nikki Grimes. It is mostly written in verse. She had a traumatic childhood but knew that she finally had to expose her good and bad memories to the air. In her author's note, Grimes writes, "A memoir is tricky business. Unlike an autobiography, a memoir's focus is on truth, not facts." Ever talk to a sibling about a shared event? They will remember things differently than you. No one is wrong. Both know a truth about the situation from their own point of view. Though the story is fairly heartbreaking, I am still loving the poetry and it is a fast read. "The Naming" quote is just the first stanza of a longer poem. "The Scent of Purple" is a complete poem and the only thing on page 56. Hence, the quick read.
Review: Ordinary Hazards won a Printz Honor last month when the ALA Youth Media Awards were handed out. It hadn't really been on my radar but it should have been. Nikki Grimes grew up in New York City. Her mother, who battled with schizophrenia and alcoholism, was an unreliable parent. Her father, a musician, was out of her life for several years. Fortunately for Grimes she was assigned a very loving, supportive foster situation. It was while she lived in this foster home that she wrote her first poem, at age six, and has been writing every since. She has published many books for children and young adults. She has also won lots of awards. Of her many titles the one she likes best is "Poet".
When she decided to write a memoir of her early years she knew it would be tough because her childhood was so traumatic. She had many holes in her memory because of this trauma but with the help of her sister and a childhood friend she was able to piece together her story, written in a series of poems. The book is achingly lovely and heartbreaking, hopeful and frustrating. For any teen who is afraid to reach for their dreams because of their life situations, this is a must-read. Nikki may not have had a supportive mother, but she found adults and friends in other quarters to help her reach her goal of becoming a writer.
I've been having this conversation with myself too--about truth not being facts. In my case, feelings are not facts. The distinction is important.ReplyDelete
In Nikki Grimes case I think she means that her memories are so tainted by her trauma that she can't actually remember facts like dates, locations. She bemoans that she doesn't remember teachers names or even names of friends. But she knows some truths about what happened to her.Delete
Trauma can blur facts, but so can intense feelings. Taking a rational look at things that I feel lots of emotion about can be tough.Delete
Sounds like some deep prose. Happy weekend!ReplyDelete
Very deep, and intriguing.Delete
Sounds like an interesting read.ReplyDelete
I've had a lot of names, both first and surnames...now I think I have finally found my true name. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I may have to look for this. Thanks for sharing. :)ReplyDelete
Lauren @ Always Me
This sounds like a good one.ReplyDelete
A memoir written in verse sounds really interesting. I love that first poem. I'm definitely intrigued by this one. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
This looks interesting. I definitely like to check out more novels in verse. Hope you enjoy your weekend!ReplyDelete
I've never read a memoir, but this is a very unique way to write one.ReplyDelete
Marie @ Pages to Explore
This sounds really interesting!ReplyDelete
This sounds super interesting. Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great weekend! :)ReplyDelete
The part about our memories being individual really hit home. I recently discussed a significant even from my childhood with my mother and sister separately and it was amazing what different aspects we remembered, yet they had overlapping edges. Sounds like a significant book.ReplyDelete