cover image Ask Me How I Got Here

Ask Me How I Got Here

Christine Heppermann. Greenwillow, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-238795-0

In concise, passionate poems set over several months, Addie, a sophomore and cross-country runner at Immaculate Heart Academy, narrates the turbulent journey that begins with her crush on a student named Nick, includes her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent abortion, and examines the feelings that subsequently engulf her. While Heppermann used fairy tale elements to heighten the experiences of contemporary girlhood in Poisoned Apples, Addie’s poems do so through evocative religious imagery: “Sunday Morning” describes lovemaking (“His mouth a skittish liturgy/ along my neck,/ my need a holy ache,/ a blessing”) while “Mercy” offers her parents’ and boyfriend’s understanding response to her news (“Nick comes over. My/ parents go out, come home later/ with mint chip ice cream”). The Virgin Mary figures in many poems, giving voice to Addie’s frustrations and questions: “She never had to listen/ to excuses from Joseph/ about how he meant/ to bring protection” and “Maybe she had a favorite song,/ a mole on her chin, a secret dream/ that, after a while, not even she/ remembered.” Heppermann’s discerning and incisive verse elegantly conveys the heightened sensitivity and multilayered complexity of Addie’s emotions. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (May)