Friday, January 23, 2015

Poisoned Apples

Poisoned Apples
Christine Heppermann
HarperCollins, 2014  103 pgs
Grades 9-Up

Heppermann pens fifty poems loosely based on fairy tale characters.  These are not your grandmother's fairy tales.  Hepperman takes classic characters and re-examines them through modern feminist eyes.  Angst and problems facing young women of today are explored by re-working classic characters and using them as a vehicle to demonstrate the challenges and injustices of current times.  The poems are hard hitting and dark.  Themes explored are anorexia, rape, relationship struggles, society's pressure for physical perfection, and entrapment.  Each poem is presented on one double page spread with a haunting photograph as background.  An author's note at the end of the volume explains her motivation behind writing the poems and invites young people to face their own demons in order to find healing.  An index of first lines and photographs round out the superbly crafted volume.

Poisoned Apples is at first glance a thin volume of fairytale poems that looks like an easy read.  Looks can be deceiving.  Fairytale does not necessarily mean warm and fuzzy, as Heppermann points out.  She explores the darkness behind traditional female characters, while revealing painful experiences of young women today.  The poems are edgy and biting and often uncomfortable to read.  That said, they are also beautiful, impeccable written, and stay with you long after you close the slim volume.  I began reading this book in June and had to put it down for a while because it was making me too sad.  I found it in the glove compartment of my car and finally read it in about an hour.  The themes explored are for mature readers only and since it very obviously has a feminist agenda girls will gravitate towards it more than boys.  The photographs included in the book are stunning and add to the experience of the poetry.  Not for everyone, Poisoned Apples is a special and important little work that should be included in library collections and will appeal to sensitive young women who need an outlet for their emotions. 

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