Published by Greenwillow Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Emily
Once upon a time...
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or
a villain, cursed or charmed. You are
everything in between.
You are everything.
In fifty poems Christine Heppermann places fairy tales side by side with the modern teenage girl. Powerful and provocative, deadly funny and deadly serious, this collection is one to read, to share, to treasure, and to come back to again and again.
Please welcome our guest reviewer, Emily...
POISONED APPLES opens by warning its readers, "You can lose your way anywhere," and for anyone underestimating this slim volume of YA fairy tale poetry, consider yourself fairly warned. It's a solid little book, some offerings packing more of an emotional punch than others, some fitting the fairy tale theme better than others. But taken as a whole, it delivers raw and sometimes brutal commentary on what it means to be a teenage girl today.
As a lifelong lover of fairy tales and a student of various types of mythology, I got the biggest enjoyment from the poems that reimagined specific fairy tales. I also found that those were, on the whole, more successful and better written than the ones that dealt more in vague magical or mythological imagery. Heppermann twists these well-known stories (some deftly, some more clumsily) to frame the adolescent girl's experience, by turns macabre, joyful, angry, wry, and sad. Several of the poems discuss eating disorders using the fairy tale obsession with eating, food, and hunger; female friendships and the pitfalls of teenage love are also common topics.
The feminist in me was delighted by Heppermann calling out the strictures of these roles girls are expected to fulfill. Why should we care who's the fairest? Why should we fight over Prince Charming? Why shouldn't we save ourselves for once? However, the photographic illustrations were more miss than hit when it came to complementing the content. For a book that talked so much about the pressure to conform to the standard of thin white prettiness, the photos were mostly pictures of thin white girls. The abstract / surreal ones were definitely the best, often fattening up-- so to speak-- the creepy atmosphere of the poems they accompanied.
Overall, POISONED APPLES is a good, quick, fun read with a bunch of unexpected serious notes that gave the book an extra punch. If you like YA and fairy tales, it's worth the read, even (or especially) if you don't think you like poetry.Series Titles:
Emily hails from Boston, where she divides her time between work, writing, crafting, and her obsession with the Great British Bake-Off. You can read her book reviews and musings on representation in media at plentyofpages.blogspot.com.