Alma Press­es Play

Tina Cane

  • Review
By – February 24, 2022

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.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

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