Written in verse, this lyrical novel follows thirteen-year-old Alma Rosen, who is going through relatable life changes. Alma describes difficult events, including friction with friends, her parents’ impending divorce, and the feelings of angst and uncertainty, as she reflects on her past and forges a path towards her future.
The author incorporates some unique elements, which enhance Alma’s narrative. The prose is interspersed with poetry, lists such as Alma’s favorite candy, relevant dictionary definitions, song lyrics, and letters written to people in Alma’s life, such as a friend who moved away and her beloved late grandmother, Miriam. Alma even ties in Greek mythology, which mirrors her own life experiences and offers further insights into her world.
Alma’s heritage features prominently; one side of her family is Chinese, and the other is Jewish. Alma recounts tales and experiences from both sides of her family, incorporating memories of family meals, her relatives, and the holidays and events that have shaped her life.
The author’s use of setting — the early eighties in New York — is powerful and evocative. Readers will feel like they’re alongside Alma as she spends her days listening to music, conversing on the stoop with friends in her East Village neighborhood, and purchasing candy at the local store.
This slice-of-life story is a beautifully written snapshot of a teenager’s inner world during a transformative time. Alma’s voice feels authentic and underscores her sense of identity, belonging, and heritage. Readers have the opportunity to explore the challenges of growing up through her eyes.
Fans of novels-in-verse and poetry will welcome Alma’s story to their collection.