Thursday, June 28, 2018

Between the Lines

Between the Lines. Nikki Grimes. 2018. 216 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I check out Mr. Ward's classroom early, find dark walls covered with poetry hanging in picture frames bright as jelly beans. Who wrote all these poems? And where exactly does Open Mike Friday take place?

Premise/plot: Nikki Grimes' Between the Lines is a companion novel to the award-winning Bronx Masquerade. It is a new school year and this is a new class. So it isn't exactly a sequel. But if you enjoyed the first one, you'll love the second as well.

This YA novel written in prose and verse celebrates the human spirit. Readers meet a handful of students--young men, young women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Wild Words by Li Cheng
crack me open.
Only the right ones, of course,
those laced with beauty
or infused with the sweetness
of a ripe peach.
Each word, each lyrical phrase,
often powerful enough
to break, or heal,
the heart.
But you knew this
from the start.
Why else would you
come offering to share
your own wild words
with plain, ordinary me?
Words are clearly
the truest thing
we have in common.
Still, why me?
Never mind.
Your clever lines
have lassoed
my attention.
I'm listening.
My thoughts: Bronx Masquerade and Between the Lines remind me of Glee. In a good way. Both are about high school students finding a safe haven to be themselves and find their voices. Both are about high school students coming together and forming strong bonds of friendship. There are some differences. There is less drama--no melodrama--in these novels. That's a relief. The characters have struggles--internal and external--to deal with on a daily basis. Poetry is how they express themselves and deal with all the pressures and uncertainties of life. Honesty is important, and these poems offer it with amazing vulnerability. The students are brave, in a way, but their trust is not misplaced.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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