Your Own, Sylvia Your Own, Sylvia
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Your Own, Sylvia Your Own, Sylvia

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  737 ratings  ·  167 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 "YourOwn," "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...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Random House Children's Books (first published March 13th 2007)
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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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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. :-)
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
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.
The Loft
This is beautifully written and offers a more balanced perspective of the poet's life than many other biographies.
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...more
Michelle Lombardi
Your Own, Sylvia presents an intimate view into the life of poet Sylvia Plath. Told in poems written by the author from the points of view of Plath or her friends and family, it combines Plath's writing style with notable moments from her life. For someone who is interested in Plath's life and work, this book is interesting and satisfying.

Because Sylvia Plath died a young death, she did not have the chance to publish as much as her readers would have liked. Stephanie Hemphill's work fulfills th...more
Brad Walton
As a reader, I was reminded entirely of reading Plath's own poetry. I must admit that I do not like Plath's work, but not because it is written poorly. In fact, Plath wrote incredible poetry and was a master of literary devices. I never liked her work because she was always very self-centered and egotistical in her writing. She was self glorifying and vainglorious. "Your Own, Syvia" reminded me of Plath's poetry because it too was very well written, but I did not like the subject matter. I can s...more
The first time I read Sylvia Plath, which was in sophomore year, she gave me a funny feeling - a cross between creepiness and excitement. In my then-limited mind, she was someone I didn't really want to go in-depth with because I found her and her works too morbid. A couple of years later, I managed to get a bit closer to for her, especially after reading The Bell Jar, and found out there were a lot of things about her life I could relate to. It was like an epiphany: She wasn't that different fr...more
Lisa Collins (Lisa Likes Books)
I’m not the biggest poetry fan in the world. I would go as far to say sometimes I loathe it. I like things that get to the point, and poetry tends to beat around the bush. I love to try and convince myself I like poetry, though. I often get books of poetry from the library, take a couple looks at them, and then turn them in again without reading more than a few poems.
I picked up this book of poetry because it’s about Sylvia Plath and her life. I’m a fan of Plath’s works (to an extent), but I lov...more
Karen Workun
To preface this, I will just say...I love memoirs. I also love the work of Sylvia Plath, one of America's most tragic artists. There really are no words to describe this text, other than Hemphill has done an amazing job of researching and conveying the turmoil that was Plath's life in a sublime way. The use of verse throughout the novel was a triumph, and the fact that each piece was told from the perspective of someone in Plath's life was genius. It's strange to think that I had never read a bi...more
Sara Grochowski
Sylvia Plath is an enigma that I've spent a (probably) unhealthy amount of time trying to understand. Like many women and teens who've read her work, I feel a strong sense of kinship to Plath that fuels my curiosity, and I found Stephanie Hemphill's Your Own, Sylvia to be a welcome and engaging read which offered both interesting information and the emotion of poetry.

It surprised me how much I learned while reading Your Own, Sylvia. Many of the poems mimic poems written by Plath in style or form...more
I think the author of this book was attempting to write a moving, poetic tribute to an author she greatly admired. If only I had seen it as such when I read this book. The poetry was fairly nice, but I was not impressed with the format of the poems, or who's perspective they were told from. I also thought that the way they were told was slightly belittling to Sylvia Plath and I was almost deterred from liking her character. I would have rather read a biography about her that was more straightfor...more
Hemphill, Stephanie. Your Own, Sylvia. Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. 12-15 yrs.

Beginning in 1932, Stephanie Hemphill takes her reader on a journey through the life, and eventual suicide, of author and poet Sylvia Plath. Touted as a “verse portrait,” Hemphill’s work gives a fictional perspective of the main characters in Plath’s life through verse. Plath’s mother, neighbor, husband, boyfriends, brother, psychiatrist, students and teachers are all given a voice. Based on research, letters and other work...more
Sarah (YA Love)
I didn’t know anything about Your Own, Sylvia until I decided to have my upcoming sophomores reading Printz novels as their summer homework. I bought quite a few of the winners and honor books so my students could borrow them over the summer, so of course I’ve been reading them as well. I’m so, so happy I bought Stephanie Hemphill’s novel.

I haven’t read all of The Bell Jar (I read portions in college), but after reading Your Own, Sylvia I’ll be reading it for sure. I know the story of Sylvia Pla...more
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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
More about Stephanie Hemphill...
Wicked Girls Sisters of Glass Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein 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…