cover image The Glimmering Room

The Glimmering Room

Cynthia Cruz. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-1-884800-97-9

The second collection from Cruz (Ruin) makes no bones about its milieu: Goth kids, teens in trouble, severely damaged by sexual abuse, prescription drugs, and adult neglect, trying to save one another, and to understand one another's pain, in a "Kingdom of never-/ ending medicine." Caught in a "Foster home nightmare, kinder-/ Slut, maybe," Cruz also looks back at time spent in the mental health system, "when/ I was locked in the Starver's Ward/ With the other almost-girls." Praying to an absent "God of gas station bathrooms/ And of girls held hostage/ Inside their own bedrooms," holding on to a "Plastic baggy filled/ With kiddy pills," Cruz also casts herself as a modern Persephone: "Groom of the Underworld, please/ Come with me// To the discotheque at the end. Of the world." With some help from Christian references, and from a smattering of German words, Cruz tries hard, sincerely, dramatically, to make the plights of her characters%E2%80%94herself, and doomed Billy, and rough Toby, and other friends dead or alive%E2%80%94into modern myths. Young readers, or those with a taste for extremes, might respond. Others, however, might find fewer archetypes than stereotypes. (Oct.)