by Thalia Chaltas
I bought this one for the plane ride, and I found the summary intriguing. I also got a really happy book so I had a book for any mood.
Anke’s father is abusive. But not to her. He attacks her brother and sister, but she’s just an invisible witness in a house of horrors, on the brink of disappearing altogether. Until she makes the volleyball team at school. At first just being exhausted after practice feels good, but as Anke becomes part of the team, her confidence builds. When she learns to yell “Mine!” to call a ball, she finds a voice she didn’t know existed. For the first time, Anke is seen and heard. Soon, she’s imagining a day that her voice will be loud enough to rescue everyone at home—including herself.
My Expectations: I bought this book (I swear, didn’t know it was verse) because the summary made it look like an emotional read. Yeah, I read those books.
Delivery: Didn’t love it, but I thought it was a fantastic experience and enjoyable in general. I ended up wishing there was more.
Put-down-ability: Actually a quicker read, and read it on the plane continuously. Maybe a 4/10
I think the correct feeling I had when I finished this book is that I wished it was more. More emotional, more depth to the characters, more engaging to the reader. It was undoubtedly all of these things, but not to the point where I was a sobbing mess or screaming at the characters.
The abuse portrayed in this novel is described with the best mix of detached denial and up-close horror. Anke’s feelings about it is conflicted which both surprised me and was realistic. She hates her father for what he is doing to her siblings, but she feels worthless because he doesn’t pay the same ‘attention’ to her. It’s a twisted way to think, but when you consider a daughter’s longing for her father’s appreciation it is scarily probable.
I liked the way Anke and her siblings/mom interact, each knowing the terrible but unspeakable secret that tears their family apart was heart-wrenching and full of depth. Casual glances and the distance kept between them was well described with simplicity and power which added to my enjoyment of the novel
Another part I thought made the novel unique is the strong imagery that I wasn’t sure a verse novel could achieve. I loved the references to leaves and trees, along with the attached symbolism. Anke’s voice served her character well, both with the hints of fear and longing. I do wish I was more engaged with her character though, there were quite a few times I felt like I was “on the outside looking in” when I would rather, as a reader, be experiencing her emotions as well (you know what I mean?).
I did feel the secondary characters excluding her family were a bit weak. They felt mostly flat, especially the two love interests, Jed and Kyler. I wanted a bit more from Rona as well but I can understand Anke’s desire to keep her at arm’s length when regarding the personal issues. I loved the way volleyball was incorporated into the novel, kind of like the forbidden activity but something she can’t help but love.
Lastly, I thought the ending was only okay. I thought the way the abuse was resolved felt a bit clichéd, not to mention (just a tiny bit) reminiscent of the novel Speak. I wanted a bit more, and wished it could have been a bit less tidy. I also thought that throughout the majority of the novel Anke’s emotions are always strongly portrayed until the very end where it kind of fell short.
Parting Thoughts: Really liked it! Glad I bought the novel and the verse style was well done (time to tackle some Ellen Hopkins, I think)
Rating in HP Terms (OWLs): Acceptable
8.2/10 because I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It didn’t take long to get used to the verse style and it dealt with a tough subject with poise and directness. It never shied away or sugar-coated a very serious topic that deserves attention. Anke’s character is exceptionally written and the conflict portrayed in the novel is very strong. I wanted a bit more emotional attachment to Anke along with secondary characters with more depth. Figurative language is very well used (ugh, English teacher, go away!). B