2 out of 4 stars
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Junior High Blues by Stefanie Soto is a collection of poetry written during the author’s high school years. She writes about first loves, her anger at her birth parents, and her friendships with other girls. She expresses the mixed emotions that many teenage girls feel when betrayed by friends and boyfriends. The poems vary in rhyme scheme, meter, and style, but they all relate to her life experiences.
I enjoyed that the author wrote about her emotions openly. She doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings, whether they be anger, love, or resentment. She addresses her birth parents, who she never knew, and calls them out for being absent from her life.
My main issue with this book is that it is clearly not professionally edited. The verbs are often conjugated wrong, and spelling is an issue. The author uses “isle” instead of “aisle” multiple times, and she rarely uses periods in her poetry. This makes it feel like the book is dragging on and that each poem is just one long sentence. It also keeps the poems from flowing, which is a major detractor for a collection of poetry.
The backgrounds of the pages present another issue in this book. First, they are generally simple silhouettes of everyday objects like flowers and diamonds, and they don’t add anything to most of the poems. They also seem to be overlaid rather than underlaid, so the text is a different color on the image than it is on the rest of the page. It’s occasionally difficult to read the text when it’s on a dark picture. I also noticed that the pictures aren’t centered on the page. This became distracting, and it’s a clear sign that the book isn’t professionally edited, since this would be simple to fix.
Overall, I would give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed that the author was honest and had a strong voice, but the lack of professional editing clearly detracted from the book. I think that young girls who are around the same age the author was when she wrote this (14 to 16) might enjoy this book, but it does cover more mature themes like sex, so parents should probably preview the book first. I don’t think older readers would enjoy the book since they’ve probably progressed past most of the struggles and emotions presented by the author and can’t relate to her experiences anymore.
Junior High Blues
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