Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
The author of Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty returns with a powerful verse novel. Addie is one of the stars of her Catholic high school’s cross country team and dating a popular boy in a band. Then after having unprotected sex, Addie ends up pregnant and decides to have an abortion. After that everything changes as Addie keeps her pregnancy and decision secret from everyone except her parents and her boyfriend. Addie tries to keep on running, but she has lost her drive to excel at it. She quits the team but doesn’t tell anyone about her decision. Spending time in a coffee shop away from school, she runs into Juliana, an old friend who is having her own troubles.
Heppermann writes superb poetry. I enjoyed the fact that she incorporates the title of the each poem right into the poem itself or makes the title turn the poem a new direction for the reader. She uses each word in the same way, creating tightly crafted verse that is distinct for its powerful message. Addie’s own voice in these poems is consistent, aching at times with pain and defiant as hell in others. It is the voice of a teenager struggling with huge decisions and their repercussions as they lead her to really be true to herself.
Throughout the book, the Virgin Mary is used as a symbol but also as a figure of worship. She is seen as intensely human as well as a religious figure. It is the poems about her that really shine in this novel, each one stunningly fierce and unrepentant. Religion is part of Addie’s life and a large part of the novel. Heppermann demonstrates in her poetry how one’s faith is complex and personal and can get one through dark times.
A great verse novel that takes on big topics like pregnancy, abortion and what happens afterwards. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Greenwillow.