Take a Shelfie: Redwood and Ponytail

K.A. Holt, author of House Arrest, Knockout, and Rhyme Schemer has written a book that needs to be read.  She says it was a love letter to her 12-year old self, and I suspect there are many 11-14 year olds who will connect deeply with this book about two girls who "fall in like" with each other.

But Holt has done more than write an important story.  She has also written it in verse.  But not just verse, but in places, two voices.  And she introduces these 3 characters, Alex/Alyx/Alexx who are like a Greek chorus, setting the mood and providing premonitions of what's to come.  It's really creative!

You meet Kate first:

Just right.

I tell myself this
as I straighten my bow,
smooth my skirt,
tie my shoes.

You're just right.

Kate (Ponytail) is the leader of the cheerleaders, hoping to become captain this year.  She knows everyone, always seems happy and well put-together, and her goals are clear.  Her goals are her mother's goals for her and she hasn't always questioned that much.  Until she starts to.

Tam (Redwood) is tall, a great volleyball player, always high-fiving kids in the hall.  She has one best friend, Levi, who is as short as she is tall, and they have the kind of friendship where they can tell each other anything.  (I have to admit that I did NOT pick up on the fact that Levi is the little brother in House Arrest and the main character in Knockout.)

                                                    Are you stoked for school?

Mom.  Please don't stay stoked.

                                                    Don't be shook, baby.
                                                    I'm sure it will be very lit.

Mom.  No.  Never say those words.

We're both laughing now
as the car wheezes up to
school
and the radio kicks in
with ridiculous bass
and that stupid song
Oh, Baby
starts up
and my ears,
they bleed.

As much as Kate's mom appears superficial, controlling, and demanding, Tam's mom is proud of her, encouraging her daughter to be true to herself.  While the moms seem a little stereotyped, they help you understand where the girls are coming from.

And then, the unexpected happens.  Two girls who seemingly have nothing in common end up being intrigued by each other.  They feel safe talking together in ways they don't with their other friends, and their friendship encourages them to stretch.  They look forward to seeing each other in class, they link pinkies walking in the hallway, and they begin to understand their attraction for each other.  

It makes me think that

if something feels
so perfectly right like this,
if the universe can hold us
in its hands like this,
then of course nothing's weird
or wrong
or different.


Tam's feelings for Kate are accepted by her mother, but Kate knows her mother will explode if she finds out.  But she can't deny the feelings of deep friendship and the safe haven she feels when she's with Tam.  And that causes her to rethink a lot of the expectations in place for her.

I found this book hard to put down.  My heart broke for Kate in places, where it felt like she was living out her mother's dreams for her more than her own for herself.  I think readers will connect with her confusion about all of this, and with the feelings she starts to develop for Tam.

  • Click here if you'd like to purchase this book from Amazon; I am an affiliate and earn a few pennies (that don't come out of your pocket) if you do.

No comments

Post a Comment