cover image Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing

Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing

Gary Soto, . . Harcourt, $16 (100pp) ISBN 978-0-15-206301-6

Teenagers pine for, revel in and recover from early loves and relationships in Soto's (Mercy on These Teenage Chimps ) collection of nearly 80 poems, divided into two sections: “A Girl's Tears, Her Songs” and “A Boy's Body, His Words.” From those in love, there are moments of joy—“Love, I like how your hair is shaggy,/ That your sweater, when wet, smells of dog./ And that you itch when I'm around” as well as poignant humor: “I checked my e-mail and my cell phone/ A hundred times a day./ You were a fake. I was the one who helped/ You in math. You didn't learn anything!” says a girl in “For the Love of Dogs.” Certain poems take a more despairing tone, as in “An Act of Kindness,” in which a boy muses, “The world is cruel. People have knives,/ And even their teeth look like knives.” Ultimately, the effect is akin to experiencing all the seasons in one day, as the simplicity of the unrhymed verse thinly veils the undercurrent of complex emotions at play. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)