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The Way a Door Closes
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The Way a Door Closes

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  17 reviews
My best friend, Preacher, is being just that. His sermon today is on fathers and I am his congregation.
“Dads are light. They have no roots.
One strong wind, and they’re gone.
Out of here. History.”

With a click, a bang, a whisper—or no noise at all. There are so many ways that a door can close, but it’s not just the closing; it’s the knowing. And thirteen-year-old CJ knows to
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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YA Novels in Verse
109th out of 117 books — 186 voters
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Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Awards
26th out of 29 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Way a Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith is about thirteen year old boy named CJ who in his short life has been through a lot of dramatic life changing event. He had to deal with his father leaving his family behind and all of the pain that that caused. The hardest part for him is that he feels as if he has to keep it all together. Themes that can be found in this book are strength and healing. An activity that students can do for this book is to write a poem or story about something that was h ...more
Critical Reading (junior book)

The Way a Door Closes –Hope Anita Smith

Genre: Poetry

Summary: This is a narrative poem of a once well- settled family who is hit with the sudden departure of the husband/father. It is told through the eyes of a 13 year old boy who never loses hope that there is a chance for his family to be healed. The first half of the book presents the “picture perfect family” with no indication to the reader that the second half will bring the reality of a broken home.


Briana White
In her exceptional book, "The Way a Door Closes," Hope Anita Smith has established herself in creating a wonderful book in which poems and pictures create an ideal image for the reader to look at. Smith makes reading a real joy, especially in "The Way a Door Closes." Smith takes the reader through various poems that tell stories about a boy “opening a door” while growing up with a father, who walked out on his family, leaving hope that he will return.
Miranda Gaboury
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book of poetry in which a young boy's, named C.J., life is displayed. This talks about family and the joy and sorrows that come along with that and the struggles that some families face. In this book C.J.'s family went through a horrible time when his father left then and then the process he took in order to accept his father again. It is a very great book to show how some families struggle. Would also be a great book to use when teaching poetry.
Sam Bloom
I didn't like this as much as "Keeping the Night Watch," the companion book that was a Coretta Scott King honor book last year. First of all, Shane W. Evans's illustrations are cool, but can't compare with E.B. Lewis's work in "Night Watch." Although some of the prose in this title is unquestionably beautiful, the story as a whole is lacking a bit when compared to "Night Watch." Still, it's a great book by an excellent writer.
An Evanston Battle of the Books selection an an example of the synergy of style & content + evocative illustrations that make a children's book outstanding. Surprising author notes: this is her first book! Grandmama is based on her own grandmother - and there are enough stories about black men who leave; she wanted to write about one who came back.
Jun 09, 2010 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
"With a clock, a bang, a whisper- or no noise at all. there are so many ways that a door can close, but it's not just the closing; it's the knowing. Real and touching tale of a young man's struggle to accept a father who has walked out on his family. All told in poems.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A young boy adjusts to the absence of his father. Told as a novel in verse, this story brings out the conflicting emotions CJ feels about his father. The story is continued in Keeping the Night Watch.
Sandy Brehl
Family viewed through eyes of teen son, with insights revealed in everyday observations and reactions.
Potent. Surprisingly positive but not unrealistic ending.
Cecoiya Johnson
This was a great book of poems to read. I think this would be idea.for group work. This would also be a great way for students to learn a out poetry.
I would like to have this book in the classroom and maybe even read it as a class. I liked the descriptive language and the strong family ties.
Maggi Idzikowski
One of my very favorite collections of poetry for middle grade readers. Intense and thoughtful, well crafted, but a quick read.
smith knows how to tell hard stories about family from a child's perspective. her pithy poems are simply beautiful.
Katie Alexander
Awesome novel in verse - especially liked the part about recognizing how everyone has a different way to close a door.
Beautiful story in individual poems about a family torn apart and put back together.
quick book of poems that build on one another. well written for younger audiences
Sally Landoll
Not as good as the sequel
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On her journey to becoming an award-winning author, Hope Anita Smith has been a storyteller, teacher, photographer, artist and a singer. Her first book, THE WAY A DOOR CLOSES won several awards including, The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award, the Judy Lopez award from the Women's National Book Association, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor, the Claudia Lewis Award from Bank Street Coll ...more
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Keeping the Night Watch Mother Poems

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