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Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  929 ratings  ·  189 reviews
On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your Own, Sylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.

With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a gre
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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I don't feel like this book is deserving of Printz Honor. To write about a poet's life in a form of a series of poems from POV's of people around Sylvia is an interesting exercise, but the final product itself is not satisfying. Stephanie Hemphill is just not that great of a poet. Her best poems in this book are those that are direct imitations of Plath's own works. I caught myself wanting to read Sylvia's poetry rather than Hemphill's. Other poems are written in free verse with no rhythm or rhy ...more
This book is extraordinary. I have limited shelf space and even when I love a book, it usually goes right out the door as a gift to someone else when I'm done reading. For example - recently I adored THE HUNGER GAMES, gave it five stars here, raved about it... but as I compare my reaction to that book with my reaction to this one, well, I happily gave HUNGER GAMES away upon completion, but YOUR OWN, SYLVIA, I will keep and reread. And the book is also going to send me right back to Sylvia Plath' ...more
Being an avid reader of online discussions, articles, and interviews regarding feminism, I stumbled upon the name "Sylvia Plath" several times. Because of this, I picked up The Bell Jar as I wanted to find out more about this ever-important authoress of the 20th century. Unfortunately, I did not get far ahead into the book (I hope to be able to read it next year).
When we were assigned to read a novel written in verse in my Independent Reading Class, I noticed "Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait
Jan 09, 2008 Suzanne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Faith
So good. So, so, so good. I thought I would be at a disadvantage because (shame on me BA English, MS Library Science) all I knew about Sylvia Plath was that she wrote poetry, wrote something called The Bell Jar which I was fairly certain (now confirmed) was depressing, and that she killed herself. This book, however, is a great introduction into the world of Sylvia Plath.

The author took true events from Sylvia's life and wrote fictionalized accounts of them in verse (it makes sense when you see
Written in the style of Plath's most notable work, Hemphill creates a series of original poems influenced by and chronicling the Pulitzer prize-winning poet's childhood until her untimely suicide in 1963.

Thorough research - as illustrated by the use of footnotes - illuminates the various themes and issues which arose in Plath's poetry. Hemphill avoids turning the work into a stale biography by using various individuals' point of view - those who were closest to Sylvia - as the voice for half of
Kevin Meece
Lighthearted content, ya?
I thought that this verse portrait of Sylvia Plath's life was a quick read, which I always will enjoy. Furthermore, I really liked that each poem is told from a different perspective of a character that was impacted by Sylvia's existance. I did find the poetry to be quite dry at times; they would not necessarily stand on their own. However, collectively they created something quite interesting in the world of creative nonfiction. I liked that we got a portrait of a woman
Dawn States
Sylvia Plath, beloved young adult author, poet, and dreamer is beautifully captured in this book of her life. The book is rendered in an unusual way, which befits Sylvia. Instead of a traditional biography, it is all written in poetry, some of which is designed to resemble poems that Sylvia wrote. The book has footnotes at the bottom of some of the pages to help fill in dates and facts that would not fit in the poems. This book is a great tribute to Sylvia and anyone who en
Cait Lackey
"Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath" was written in a format that I had never really experienced before. Sylvia Plath is an author and writer that I am familiar with and Stephanie Hemphill created a fictional biography through this book that I think describes Plath's life and family in a very interesting way. I have always liked Sylvia Plath's poetry and other works, and I thought that "Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse.." was written in a poetic style that complemented Plath's own writi ...more
Jan 14, 2008 elissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to elissa by: adbooks
Whoo hoo! Today it won a Printz Honor! I just finished this last week, and if I had read this last year (a few days ago at this point) it would have definitely been on my 2007Favorites shelf! It was hard to get ahold of in libraries, though, and my hold was just filled a few days ago. Hopefully it'll win awards later this month and become more widely available (YES! It did!). It's an extremely balanced and wonderfully researched look at Plath's tumultous life. I had only read THE BELL JAR, and s ...more
I tend to be skeptical of novels-in-verse, or in this case, biography-in-verse, but I'm not sure why since I always end up enjoying them. Well, saying I enjoyed this would be a bit of a stretch, but it was a fascinating read and easy to get swept up in. I came out the other side feeling incredibly sane and healthy and happy, but thinking a bit about what makes people turn out the way they do and how writing intersects with life. There's a great section at the end on the author's process of writi ...more
This was a very unique book and I absolutely loved it! I thought she did an excellent job with the poems and I really enjoyed learning some new things about Sylvia.

The one thing that irks me, and it has nothing to do with the actual book itself, is that it is listed as young adult. Why the hell is it listed like that? To me a book that is listed YA means that it is more geared towards that age group. As an adult I tend to stay away from YA books, but I see absolutely no reason why this one shou
Gabrielle Bolland


Your Own, Sylvia, is a collection of poetry written by Sylvia Plath and those who knew her. The poems were haunting, and sad. Her life was always one of sadness and great trials. Poems from her parents, teachers, friends, and old boy friends give an insight to what others thought of Sylvia. There are even some poems from her husband. With each poem the reader is shown another layer of Sylvia and stepping one-step closer to her death. There’s a bittersweet feeling about all
I listened to the audiobook.

And I think I liked it more this way. It's multivoiced, with different readers reading the in-between and the poems add a texture. Having just read The Bell Jar, it was interesting getting some context.

Poor Sylvia! It would be interesting to know how different her life would be in a different time, but then we didn't save David Foster Wallace either.

I know want to see thaat Gwyneth Paltrow movie.

And maybe read the book to see why it was deemed Printz-worthy. :-)
Your Own, Sylvia is a uniquely-told biographical work told in the style of poetry mimicking Sylvia Plath’s own poetry. Interspersed among the author’s own poetry is Plath’s own poetry; after every poem is a snippet of biographical information told in chronological order. Each poem focuses on a different viewpoint of a person important in Plath’s life: Sylvia herself, her mother, her brother, her sister, her boyfriends, her college friends, and her husband, Ted Hughes. There are also poems told f ...more
Before writing Your Own, Sylvia, Stephanie Hemphill immersed herself in the life and works of Sylvia Plath, and then resurrected her. In roughly 200 poems of varying length, meter, and mood, Hemphill reveals to us our “own Sylvia.” Her poetry mimics Plath’s own style of free verse. Under the titles of her poems, Hemphill tells us whose perspective the poem reflects and the date or year when the event or events take place. She writes poems through the eyes of Plath’s parents, brother, best friend ...more
Mar 01, 2014 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boy-crazy, temperamental budding poets
Recommended to Kate by: Rivera
Shelves: ischool, teen-fic, poetry
Annotation: A fictionalized biography told in verse, Your Own, Sylvia, follows the life of gifted poet Sylvia Plath from her birth in 1932 in Boston through the aftermath of her now well-known suicide in London in 1963. It is based on the author’s extensive reading and research of Plath’s poetry, fiction, journals and voluminous personal correspondence, as well as biographies of her life and interviews with and about her. Hemphill writes some of her poems in the style of Plath’s, as though writt ...more
Oh man, you would think this book would be tailor-made for me. And I do actually like the idea of it. I especially like the fact that all of the poems are actually from the points of view of all the OTHER people in her life. One of the things that I think is really interesting about Plath is that so many people saw her differently. She really did present herself as being one kind of person to certain people in her life, and another kind of person to others, so much so that sometimes I think she ...more
Erin Vance
This book was beautiful. It's one of the best YA books I've ever read, and I think provides a balanced portrayal of Sylvia for readers who find morbid fascination with her life and death. Most of the biographical or scholarly work I've read about Sylvia was written by men, so I found this to be an incredibly empathetic, creative, and honest portrayal of the writer and woman.
I found nothing impressive in this collection. I'll admit that I learned stuff about Sylvia Plath and her family, but those things I read in the lengthy footnotes which explain every little thing so that every ounce of ambiguity would be flushed down the toilet. This isn't a poetry collection or even an insightful point of view--it's an essay written by a die-hard fan.

The poems themselves are dull, uncreative, and contrived. They were all one style save for the poems that are "imagining Sylvia
This book shot itself in the foot by having footnotes at the end of each poem. The poems themselves, told in many voices who knew Sylvia Plath, are often great, but then the author interrupts EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE with a paragraph-long footnote either explaining the meaning of the poem (you shouldn't have to do means your poem isn't very good) or giving biographical information of the speaker or other mostly unnecessary stuff that could have just been included in the book's back ma ...more
Kelly A
I never went through a Plath phase, even though I was the very portrait of someone who should have, with my obsession for dead artists and lifelong struggle with depression. This book makes me feel I was robbed, in a way.
I was drawn to Prozac Nation, Girl, Interrupted, and of course, The Bell Jar -- so this naturally suited me. Hemphill did her research (what little can be done) and wrote some great poetry.
An interesting book written in a series of poems. Each poem is in the perspective of a different person who knew Sylvia. I loved how the book conveyed a lot of factual information by telling a fictional story that shows what people might have thought, felt, or said at that time. Sylvia herself is a very fascinating person...this was the first time I had heard of her and I felt the book gave me a great introduction to her and her life. A must read for someone who is looking for a new and fresh wr ...more
The Loft
This is beautifully written and offers a more balanced perspective of the poet's life than many other biographies.
Tiffany Johnson
This author channels Sylvia Plath and seems to pick up where she left off.
All of the poetry is original, but perfectly aligned with Sylvia Plath's unique poetry.
The author confesses to a deep, abiding and nearly insane obsession with Sylvia Plath as a writer and as a person. She even admits to writing her poems on the same day of the year that Sylvia wrote the original poem. Through her work, I felt I gained an intimacy with Sylvia, in all of her glory and success, as well as her sorrow and tr
This book of poems describes the life of Sylvia Plath from different points of view. Some of them are in the form of some of her most famous poems. Her family, friends and close acquaintances were interviewed and some speculated what they thought of her, up to her successful suicide.

I really loved this book, partially because I love Sylvia Plath's poetry. Her life was so dramatic and morbid. The poems were really well done, and the little notes at the bottom reveal what they were going through a
Stacey M Pena
Your Own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath
I am big fan of books written in verse. I have always been a huge poetry fan and this just seems like a natural progression when I started discovering more of these novels and more authors producing these types of novels. This one interested me a lot. The author read through biographies, journals, Plath's work and used all that to write poems that reflected different times and aspects of Plath's life. She uses the view points of people in Plath'
Kris at Book Wishes
I have found a new favorite author one that I put at the top of my list! Stephanie Hemphill. Last year I was sent the ARC for Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl who wrote Frankenstein I read this book quickly through then posted my 5 star review in October. I was hooked I love author Hemphill's writing and since that book I purchased Wicked Girls which I loved then recently I purchased Your Own Sylvia this book. I have never really read that much about Sylvia Plath so this book was a doorway in ...more
This is a book of poetry inspired by the life of Sylvia Plath. I was a little surprised to find it on audiobook until I got the hang of listening to it. The poems are told from the perspective of people who knew Sylvia; mother, siblings, boyfriends, doctors, friends and acquaintances. For each poem there is a brief introduction regarding who is speaking and then the poem. Afterwards the author reads any foot notes regarding the time of Sylvia's life or the person speaking. I actually found this ...more
Written in the styles of her most famous works, Your Own Sylvia is a shocking insight into the troubled mind of the plagued poet Sylvia Plath. Hemphill creates a realistic portrait of Plath’s relationship with those around her, using carefully crafted verses as vehicles for emotion. Through their eyes, we see the struggles of a talented young women, fighting to find peace with herself.

I found this verse novel to be a moving and powerful introduction to Sylvia Plath. Coming into the book with no
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Stephanie Hemphill's first novel in poems, Things Left Unsaid, was published by Hyperion in 2005 and was awarded the 2006 Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Excellence in Poetry by the Children's Literature Council of Southern California.

Her second novel, a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath, Your Own, Sylvia was published by Knopf in March 2007. A third novel in verse for teens, Wicked Girls, a verse st
More about Stephanie Hemphill...
Wicked Girls Sisters of Glass Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems Easy

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“I fret for Sylvia.
She appears anchored

to the idea of sinking,
which is silly when she so clearly

soars above almost everyone.”
“She said the night was March and black
and that the hill where he kissed her
and enveloped her in his arms
was a sea of grass and she rooted
to the ground like a sapling,
like it was natural and yet
all created for her moment of romance.”
More quotes…