Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-284468-2 $14.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-284469-9 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7–10
Teenaged author Kaufman is probably better known as Instagram celebrity @poeticpoison, and here she poetically chronicles her path through an adolescence plagued by depression, self-harm, and abusive relationships through to self-aware and sustainable coping strategies. She begins with an author’s note highlighting what may be triggering content, but her warmly conversational tone suggests assurance and solidarity with readers that she sees as allies in brave combat against overwhelming darkness. Her poetic journey is progressive, broken into chapters entitled “the night persists,” “the dawn breaks,” “the twilight grows,” and “the sun rises.” The clearly voiced, readable poems alternate among free verse, haiku, rhymed quatrains, and prose poems, some mimicking scripts, some broken into the components of a lab report, others headed by the names of planets, the totality suggesting a teen attempting to impose order on personal chaos using the tools on offer in her daily life. Simple sketches complement the verbal imagery through literalizing metaphors and contribute to a sense of unfinished adolescence. The hinted-at abuses and relationship traumas are vague enough to map onto various [End Page 433] reader experiences, and while some of the metaphors are past their freshness date, their very familiarity is what offers hope that someone has been there before and that the path out of darkness is not so bewilderingly original as to be untraceable.