Week 16: I am excited about the memoir I read this past week!
What I Did Last Week
I read Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. Her memoir is written in free verse poetry and I really loved it. I enjoyed reading her work as she played with language and image.
About Ordinary Hazards
Ordinary Hazards is a free verse memoir written by Nikki Grimes and accounts for the first 16 years of her life. It is divided into four sections. The first section narrates the first five years of her life and is quite short. It recounts her years of living in the chaos of her mother’s shadow. The second section recounts happier years in foster care, from 5 to 10 years old, with a family that took her in as one of their own. Section three deals with her return to her mother and her abusive boyfriend from the age of 10 to 13. The fourth and final section deals with Nikki’s emotional separation from her mother, her reconnection with her father, and her discovery of herself as a creative and capable artist. The book ends at around age 16.
Ends much younger than mine does, she leaves the reader with possibility but does not show that next level or stage of growth. My memoir moves past that stage and into young adulthood, showing my journey to university and into young adulthood.
My Notes from Reading Ordinary Hazards
Like me, Nikki Grimes has few records of her past. She must rely on her fragmented memory, as some of her memories are missing. She used a repeated section called ‘Notebook’ to fill in what she no longer has. I have a fairly clear memory of the events of my past, although I recognize they are tainted with my point of view. The writer’s perspective taints all memoirs. I appreciate Nikki Grimes mentioning this at the end of her book.
I loved the free verse and how it allows her to dip in and out of moments while stilling pulling together a fairly cohesive narrative. All writers can learn from her work and the work of other poets.
Ordinary Hazards was published by Wordsong, the only US publisher dedicated to poetry. Kirkus Reviews described it as raw, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting. I couldn’t agree more. Ordinary Hazards has won awards and nominations and has earned many positive reviews. I’d like to aspire to write this well.
Both Ordinary Hazards and my book are meant for 14+ because of how they deal with the subject matter.
What Am I doing this week?
I am going to read Hey, Kiddo. This is a graphic memoir by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I’ll let you know how it goes next Monday!
I’d love to know where you think your book fits. What two books is your book most like?
– Keep writing
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