Review of Ask Me How I Got Here

heppermann_ask me how i got herestar2 Ask Me How I Got Here
by Christine Heppermann
High School    Greenwillow    229 pp.
5/16    978-0-06-238795-0    $17.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-238797-4    $9.99

Catholic-school sophomore Addie loves running cross-country, writing poetry, and having sex with her thoughtful, artsy new boyfriend, Nick. Then Addie gets pregnant. Her decision to have an abortion is unwavering, and she has the support of Nick and her parents. Heppermann explores the aftermath of Addie’s decision with striking sensitivity and candor. Addie’s choice, although significant, is just one of many in her larger coming-of-age story: she quits the cross-country team, grows ambivalent toward Nick, and enters a romantically charged friendship with fellow runner Juliana. Addie narrates in forthright, occasionally cheeky free verse: from “What Choice Do I Have?”: “Fling myself out the window? / (The screen is jammed.) / Run off and join the Marines? / (I look bad in hats). / Hope the Earth explodes in the next ten seconds? / (One Mississippi, Two Mississippi… / Damn).” Her struggles, though, are real and never downplayed — and neither, thankfully, are they histrionic. In interspersed poems presented in a hand-lettered typeface, Addie muses on morality, religion, and sexuality (for instance, expressing strong feelings about how young women, whether they are sexually active or the Virgin Mary, are so readily “reduced to a womb”); her observations are thought-provoking, wry, and bitingly smart. With her vibrant voice and rich characterization, Addie easily outshines the “issues” in this remarkable verse novel.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jessica Tackett MacDonald

Jessica Tackett MacDonald is a collection development librarian at the Boston Public Library, specializing in youth and teen collections. She holds masters degrees in library science and children’s literature from Simmons University.

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