September 28, 2014

Review: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
Author: Christine Heppermann
Genre: YA Fairy Tale/Retellings/Poetry
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books


Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann's collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it "a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny, and heartbreaking."

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty is a collection of fifty poems where the author has taken fairy tale themes and stories and put a modern twist on them. These poems range from sarcastic and funny to gritty and biting. They deal with a lot of important issues that girls and women face today - eating disorders, lack of self-esteem, overwhelming pressure, judgment from others and yourself, and everything in between. Not all of the poems deal with completely negative themes - the author includes things that females can celebrate together, including friendship, family, sisters, and the power that women actually have in the world.
I'm a big fan of poetry and even write some myself. I've found it incredibly difficult to find a modern poet that I can identify with or simply enjoy their poetry. That all changed when I read this book. I didn't know what to expect at first glace - it was simply described as a book of poems that centered around fairy tales. I thought I'd take a chance on it, and I am SO glad that I did. This book far exceeded any type of expectations or hopes I may have had for it - and then it just kept going until my mind was blown. Admittedly, some readers don't like poetry as much as I do - but these are different. They are so easy to identify with (especially if you're a female) and easy to understand. The author doesn't try to sugar coat the real topic of her poems behind fairy tales or pretty words. They cut right to the bone of the topic and lay it all bare. I share almost all of the same viewpoints as the author, so each poem in the book made me do a little cheer because someone is finally speaking out about these issues that women and girls have to face in our society - and she didn't do it in a boring nonfiction book. She did it with poems and images. For each poem in the book, there was a corresponding picture on the opposite page. I adored them because not only were they darkly beautiful, but because they punctuate the point the author is trying to make. The images are a big Gothic and done without color - but I believe that this only adds to their appeal and the statement the author's making. I honestly don't know how else to describe this book. The poetry is very well done - in free verse - and I can honestly say that I loved every single one. The way that the poems present the various topics - be it eating disorders, the pressure of being what society calls "beautiful," or issues with lack of confidence and self doubt - is both enchanting yet caustic. I found myself swept away by the poems themselves along with the images, yet I was well aware of what the author was talking about in each one, and I was agreeing wholeheartedly the entire time. I have finally found myself a modern poet to adore, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will have a permanent spot on my bookshelf (or beside my bed) and I'll be re-reading it constantly. I couldn't recommend this book more - my review doesn't do it near enough justice - so just give it a shot. Even if you're not a usual fan of poetry, this unique and wholly original collection will breath life into a basically dormant genre and you will undoubtedly leave with at least one topic stuck in your head to make you think for a bit. As I said before - READ. THIS. BOOK. I encourage fans of all types of genres to give it a read - there's something for everyone to enjoy or appreciate. I am now anxiously awaiting the next book of poetry by the author! (Note to Author: You have myself and tons of other readers addicted to your work, so pretty please write another book of poetry for us!)
Best Modern Poet I've Ever Read! I'm now obsessed with this book.

*A HUGE thanks to the awesome people at Greenwillow Books/HarperTeen for sending me a copy of the book for review!!*

Christine Heppermann is a writer, poet, and critic. Her book of poetry for young adults, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, has been called "a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny and heartbreaking" (E. Lockhart) and a "powerful and provocative exploration of body image, media, and love" (Rae Carson).

Christine's first book, City Chickens (Houghton Mifflin, 2012), is a nonfiction story about a shelter for abandoned and unwanted chickens in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 2015 Greenwillow Books will publish the first book of the Backyard Witch Series, written by Christine and Ron Koertge. The middle-grade series follows three best friends and a mysterious visitor who appears for curious adventures just when they need her most.

Christine was a columnist and reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine from 1996 until 2013. Her poems are published in 5AM, The Magazine of Contemporary Poetry; Poems and Plays; Kite Tales; Nerve Cowboy; The Mas Tequila Review; and The Horn Book Magazine. Her reviews of children's and young adult books have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She has an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. (Taken from Goodreads)

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1 comment:

  1. I've never really been into poetry, but this sounds interesting. I may have to give Poisoned Apples a shot.