cover image Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

Nikki Grimes. Wordsong, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-62979-881-3

Grimes (One Last Word) presents a gripping memoir in verse constructed from imperfect recollections of the hardship and abuse she endured as a child. Having lost chunks of her memory as a result of traumatic experiences, Grimes relies on her art to fill in the blanks. In recurring entries titled “The Mystery of Memory,” and “Notebook,” Grimes contextualizes her scattered remembrances to provide a sense of time and place for readers (“Where is the chronology of a life/ chaotic from the start?”). Grimes eloquently conveys the instability of a childhood lived in the unpredictable wake of a mentally ill mother and abusive stepfather alongside hopeful anecdotes about the safe haven provided by her beloved older sister, her growing faith, and the often absent yet doting father she lost too soon. Underlining the idea that “a memoir’s focus is on truth, not fact,” Grimes courageously invites readers to join her on a journey through the shadows of her past, bridging “the gaps/ with suspension cables/ forged of steely gratitude/ for having survived my past/at all.” Ages 12–up. (Oct.)