Poisoned Apples, by Christine Heppermann
There's been so much chatter around Poisoned Apples that I really don't know how I haven't picked it up until now. Especially since it's so very much up my alley—poems that use fairy tale imagery to talk about the experience of growing up female in our culture.
Most of the poems are accompanied by black and white photos—some of which wouldn't look out of place as rather generic-looking YA cover art, but actually end up working really nicely in this context.
The poems are thoughtful and funny and sad and maddening and frustrating and clever and very much acknowledge so many of the hard contradictions of being young and female: feeling both powerful and powerless, being judged for both indulging her various appetites as well as for denying them, wanting to embrace her own sexuality but also not wanting to be sexualized by every rando she meets.
Format bonus: Short poems in a short book, so it might not even scare off reluctant readers or non-poetry people!
A couple of favorites, one from the Empowering end of the spectrum:
And one from the Lie Face-Down On The Floor In Despair end of the spectrum:
Many of them, of course, are both, or lie somewhere in the middle, or made me feel different things at different times—because naturally I've already read through the book multiple times.
Where I might go from here:
Ask Me How I Got Here, by Christine Heppermann: Verse novel due out later this year about a girl who makes the decision to have an abortion, and works through her feelings surrounding it and everything else.
How I Discovered Poetry, by Marilyn Nelson: Memoir in verse about the Civil Rights era, the Cold War, and the feminism movement.
How to be a Heroine, by Samantha Ellis: Playwright who grew up in an Iraqi-Jewish community in London writes about the realization that "her whole life, she's been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre". HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS BOOK GIVE IT TO ME NOW.
The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter: Modern classic. Gothic and lady-centric retellings of fairy tales. I can't believe I still haven't read this book.
Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan: I can't believe I haven't read this one either. In part, a re-telling of "Snow White and Rose-Red", but judging by everything I've read about it, like the Carter above, I don't think it's your run-of-the-mill fairy tale retelling.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson: And this one! Another verse memoir, and the recipient of approximately one zillion awards.
Any other suggestions from the peanut gallery?