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Chaltas's novel of poems marks an intensely powerful debut. Anke and her older siblings, Darren and Yaicha, may appear typical teenagers in public, but their home life is dominated by their father. Though he is verbally, physically and sexually abusive to her brother and sister, Anke seems beyond his notice ("with a sick/ acidic/ burbling/ bile/ i want what they have/ as horrible/ curdling/ vile/ as it is/ darren and yaicha/ get more/ than/ me"). The distance between the family members-separated by their silence-is palpable, as is Anke's growing sense of strength, partly due to her participation in volleyball at school ("My lungs are claiming expanding territory./ This is my voice./ This is MY BALL"). Though the pace is quick, tension builds slowly, almost agonizingly, as acts of abuse collect (a large bruise glimpsed on Darren's torso, muffled sounds from Yaicha's room that can't be tuned out). Readers will recognize the inevitability of an explosive confrontation, but the particulars will still shock. Incendiary, devastating, yet-in total-offering empowerment and hope, Chaltas's poems leave an indelible mark. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 7 Up-Anke, a high school freshman, is the only one of her siblings to escape her father's physical or sexual abuse as her mother cowers in denial. Anke is relieved, guilt-ridden, and jealous, as he hardly acknowledges her existence. She joins the volleyball team against his wishes. As she learns to make herself heard on the court, she builds the courage to out her father's abuses. While the first 10 poems or so of this novel in verse are maudlin and overwritten, Chaltas settles mercifully into subtler character development. The story picks up pace in tandem, and even reluctant readers will plow through it as moderate tension builds. Though her arc from mouse to lion is predictable, Anke's narrative and voice are increasingly affecting. Few of the poems here are legitimately poetic, but several hit in both rhythm and emotion. The verse in which Anke measures the plausibility of living in the bathroom is among the best-all show and no tell. A lack of background details leaves readers as untethered as the narrator, and the story feels generic instead of stark. Anke's father and mother are completely without pathos, unilaterally monstrous and meek, respectively. Because I Am Furniture is an uneven though occasionally moving addition to the genre.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.