In a series of interrelated poems, twenty teenagers from the same high school give brief insights into their lives and the other characters. The chart on the book's wikipedia entry is very useful for making the connections between the characters; I found myself flipping back often to see who was who. Levithan expertly threads the stories together. With long poems and beautiful writing, I felt that I knew all of the characters well and wanted more. This is what I was hoping for when I read Helen Frost's Keesha's House.
While I loved all of the narratives, I particularly enjoyed "Tinder Heart" which was written from the perspective of Mary, an anorexic. It is the only poem in the book which features only a few words per line, as if even Mary's poem wants to be thinner. This section features moving imagery:
"why won't they
will turn me
Another excellent writing decision was to have Jamie's chapter, "The Day" be written with the lines all beginning with the same letter. Jamie takes us alphabetically through the first day after his girlfriend breaks his heart, over the course of sixteen pages. I admit, I didn't realize this was the format until all the lines were starting with the letter "L".
There are so many other wonderful things I could write about, although part of Levithan's magic is discovering what you love for yourself. While the book is too mature for my middle school students, I will be adding it to my personal library shelf and seeking out other books by the author.