Wah, this book was fab! I want to share it with young girls but also young boys and also include it in a poetry writing class for teens.
The book is toWah, this book was fab! I want to share it with young girls but also young boys and also include it in a poetry writing class for teens.
The book is told solely through diary entries by Gabi throughout her senior year of high school in Southern California. She's bilingual and surrounded by Mexican-American family and friends, so Spanish is woven in and out of dialogue and diary rants. Often the same expression is repeated in English just after, so readers who don't understand Spanish can still get what's happening. I think. It's not hard Spanish, though, so there's a language learning plus woo. Also, Gabi falls in love with writing poetry throughout the school year (in part to an awesome teacher), and the book is filled with her creations as well as references to great poets and specific poems (hello, expansion into a unit of study). The book addresses drug abuse, physical violence, rape, teen pregnancy, body image, arrests, illegal immigration, questioning Catholicism, abortion, death, and more that I'm likely not recalling now. And yet the book never feels heavy or depressing as Gabi perseveres and balances all the madness of her life with humor, positivity, and a desire to dialogue about everything happening. Teen sexuality isn't presented in black and white absolutes but as a natural part of growing up that can lead to complicated and individualized situations ranging from fabulous to terrifying to meh.
What I really super loved about this book is all the frustration Gabi expresses over how her mother, aunt, peers, teachers, and society as a whole address female sexuality and beauty in such a different way than they do male behavior and image. She's constantly pointing out inequalities in expectations, acceptable reputations, and judgements of behavior. I'm really not sure I noticed or reflected on these as a teenager, but I would like to think this book would have brought them to my attention. Oh, and Gabi considers herself "a fat girl" and often addresses her struggle to accept her body and her disappointment that her mother doesn't.
Plus she spends a lot of time describing Mexican food/making this pregnant reader really hungry. ...more
In Poisoned Apples, Heppermann repurposes fairy tales (as well as other pop culture media like commercials and magazines) to explore body image issuesIn Poisoned Apples, Heppermann repurposes fairy tales (as well as other pop culture media like commercials and magazines) to explore body image issues of interest to young adults. She puts particular emphasis on anorexia and gender norms. The very short poems are often darkly humorous, several making me laugh out loud. The poems are coupled with black and white photos submitted by a variety of photographers, so they don’t illustrate the poem so much as hope to echo the aura of it. I was expecting there to be more fairytale. While the author does draw inspiration from famous fairytales, it’s less a retelling and more a critiquing of the message conveyed to girls through those traditional stories. I actually found the poems not working off the princess archetypes to be more compelling, especially the ones throwing shade on the menfolk. The eating disorder ones were fairly disturbing and basically all relate to self starvation. Likely I would have really gotten this book as a teen. I honestly felt a bit old for it now in that I’m not wrapped up in body issues or group acceptance. ...more