Garvey in the Dark. Nikki Grimes. 2022. [October] 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: Different. The same... That's my answer if you ask how I am after the Invisible Beast broke into our house, and our world.
Premise/plot: Garvey (from Garvey's Choice) returns for a second book in Garvey in the Dark. Garvey's life has been looking up, up, and up. Things are good, really good. He's playing music; he's singing; he's got good, solid friends; he's beginning to have a strong, solid relationship with his father; he's comfortable in his own skin. But life is about to be turned upside down because of COVID-19. The book is set in the spring and summer of 2020. The poems process his experiences and emotions.
My thoughts: I wonder if this was a book that *needed* to be written. In other words, did Nikki Grimes need to write this book in order to help process the messy-messy-mess that was 2020? Between COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, 2020 was just...there aren't even words. There are ten billion memes but no words. Garvey, our protagonist, seems an authentic narrator who is trying day by day to survive 2020 and make sense of it all. He's got questions, doubts, worries, concerns. The poems are very straight-forward and honest. Like when his dad has COVID and he's standing outside his dad's bedroom door just listening to make sure he's still breathing. The pain is almost touchable, if that makes any sense at all.
It was not an easy read. I'm being fair, I think. I don't mean the poetry isn't wonderful. I don't. I mean reading these poems takes you right back in time and it's like you're living through 2020 a second time. Which has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I do think it's a time capsule of sorts. I also imagine that writing the poetry had its healing moments. A way to put into words your thoughts, emotions, etc. Also I think it could be a reminder that you can share your emotions and talk through your stuff. There's no reason that you *have* to keep it bottled up inside, hiding your pain and worries. Another point is that this will be an authentic way to share what it was like to future generations. On the other hand, it's like living through 2020 a second time. It took me RIGHT BACK.
© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews