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Teenagers pine for, revel in and recover from early loves and relationships in Soto's (Mercy on These Teenage Chimps) collection of nearly 80 poems, divided into two sections: "A Girl's Tears, Her Songs" and "A Boy's Body, His Words." From those in love, there are moments of joy-"Love, I like how your hair is shaggy,/ That your sweater, when wet, smells of dog./ And that you itch when I'm around" as well as poignant humor: "I checked my e-mail and my cell phone/ A hundred times a day./ You were a fake. I was the one who helped/ You in math. You didn't learn anything!" says a girl in "For the Love of Dogs." Certain poems take a more despairing tone, as in "An Act of Kindness," in which a boy muses, "The world is cruel. People have knives,/ And even their teeth look like knives." Ultimately, the effect is akin to experiencing all the seasons in one day, as the simplicity of the unrhymed verse thinly veils the undercurrent of complex emotions at play. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 6-9-Soto skillfully captures the voice and emotions of young teens in love. The free verse poems are grouped together in two sections: "A Girl's Tears, Her Songs" and "A Boy's Body, His Words." There are selections about first kisses ("I haven't been kissed, /But I'm waiting"), young love ("We were young, not yet fourteen./What chance could our love have/In a world so rough?"), jealousy ("You narrowed your eyes at me,/Flashed red coals from deep inside you"), and rejection ("When she said no,/I took my loneliness to the river"). In "Danger" a boy says, "If I knew you were in trouble,/I would take a shovel and shovel my way/To your house, six blocks away,/And risk live wires hissing like snakes./Love, I know, can be hazardous to my health." Since many of the narrators are 13 or 14 years old, these short, accessible poems will appeal to middle schoolers, especially. A great addition to poetry collections.-Ann Nored, Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
If only you would turn / And see me / Seeing you. In rapid, clear free verse, young teens, both girls and boys, speak about falling in love the jealousy, loneliness, and hurt of rejection and breaking up, as well as the romantic bliss. The speakers are as varied as their hairdos, which include curls, straight locks, Afros, or green spikes; and the contemporary settings are diverse, too, from the classroom ( I secretly open my cell / And look at you, digitally caught ) and cafeteria ( Lucky fork touched your lips ) to the forest ( where boys go / When a girl says no ) and town streets, where the speakers skateboard. The sex is minimal, mostly dreams ( Her hair against my throat / And the pink bud of her tongue ), and even parents' discussion of sex isn't direct; in one poem, a dad tries, and fails, to talk about the birds and the bees. Young teens will enjoy the love sick puns and the metaphors, lyrical and sad, that show there is poetry in the way they speak.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2009 Booklist