Ask Me How I Got Here
by Christine Heppermann
Expected Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Length: 240 pages
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for honest review consideration. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free-verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit. Like Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, Christine Heppermann is a voice to turn to for the truth of difficult subjects. Ask Me How I Got Here is a literary exploration of sexuality, religion, and self-discovery.
Ask Me How I Got Here is making me rethink my stance on verse novels. See, I like novels, and I like poetry, but verse novels rarely feel necessary to me, and 90% of the time I feel it makes the prose feel more stilted then it would not in verse. However, I really appreciated Ask Me How I Got Here and I think part of that is because there’s a good reason the novel is in verse(it’s part of main character Addie’s school project). It took me a bit to get into the format, but once I did I was hooked and I breezed through this book.
Ask Me How I Got Here is, at heart, a coming of age novel. Addie attends a religious all-girls school, and feels caught in between as far as where she fits in. Addie gets pregnant at the beginning of the novel and has an abortion, but even though that’s a huge story line, it’s not quite what the book is about. It’s an encompassing look at growing up and finding your place through terms of identity, sexuality, and choices.
One aspect that really stood out to me in Ask Me How I Got Here was the emphasis on physicality. I haven’t read many books about teen pregnancy/abortion, but I have read a few, and most of the focus tends to be on the mental. That focus is also clear through Addie’s poetry, but there’s a lot that Ask Me How I Got Here has to say about the physicality of being human(not just in relation to the pregnancy, either). Addie’s a track star and that, coupled with her school lessons, adds something to the narrative I haven’t seen done before.
I also actually really loved the poetry in Ask Me How I Got Here. There were one or two poems I found a bit stilted, but on the whole it flowed really well and I reached for the highlighting button on my kindle. There’s two mirroring poems near the beginning of the book that talk about how Addie feels her sex education has brought everything down to just the “naughty bits” and how when she’s with her boyfriend she’s more than just body parts that I found particularly moving and important considering the running theme of the physical throughout the novel.
Ask Me How I Got Here is a wonderful verse novel that I think will appeal to readers who generally don’t like verse novels because there’s an in-text reason for the poetry. It’s also a great coming of age story that offers a lot. 4/5 cupcakes.