Book Reviews

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann | Book Review


Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann.

My copy: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins Publishers), May 2016. ARC, 225 pages.

Source: Courtesy of the freebie ARC shelf at my local bookstore!



From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Apples comes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. This thought-provoking and sophisticated read further confirms Christine Heppermann as an important voice in the tradition of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and A. S. King.

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.

While I haven’t read any A.S. King, I have read Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson. Ask Me How I Got Here does tackle serious teen issues in verse form, much like Ellen Hopkin’s writing style and Laurie Halse Anderson’s stories, but Ask Me How I Got Here lacks the depth it should have, and that I wanted it to have.

Basically: teen abortion, with some religion (and questioning of religion). I really liked the free-verse poems, some were clever and felt very appropriate for a teenager living today, but I felt like the book was so… I don’t know — short? I flew through this in probably half and hour, max forty-five minutes. Which is typical of verse novels that aren’t door-stoppers (like Ellen Hopkins’ novels, ha), but I actually would have appreciated the book being quite a bit longer. I wanted to get to know Addie’s friends and family some more, as well as Addie herself. Sadly, I never really connected to anyone due to the very brief amount of time we had with them.

Also, since I’m usually not one to blithely pick up contemporary YA novels about hard topics (or contemporary YA novels on any subject — I’d much rather read about people saving the world and outsmarting bad guys), when I do pick one up, it better deliver and be a standout. Ask Me How I Got Here didn’t go as far as I wanted it to go. I felt neither uplifted, enlightened, nor all that invested. I want these types of books to make me cry, I want to completely feel the pain or heartbreak or anger the protagonist has. I didn’t get that.

This isn’t a bad book at all, I do recommend it if you’re looking for verse novels, which I am always on the lookout for. It just doesn’t have the depth or pack the punch I wanted. The writing is great, the poems are great, but the emotion isn’t quite there. ♦

Have you read Ask Me How I Got Here?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a verse novel you’ve read and enjoyed?
Comment below letting me know!

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