But then Sasha discovers family she didn’t know she had, and she finally has something to hold onto, especially sweet little Mikey, who’s just as broken as she is. Sasha even makes her first friend at school, and is slowly learning to cope with her brother’s death through writing poetry, finding a new way to express herself when spoken words just won’t do. But when tragedy strikes the mine her cousin works in, Sasha fears the worst and takes Mikey and runs, with no plans to return. In this sensitive and poignant portrayal, Sarah Dooley shows us that life, like poetry, doesn’t always take the form you intend.
What I loved:
I have fallen in love with the beautiful way that Dooley tells a story. The words will flow right off the page, break your heart and then sow it back together again. We meet Sasha who is by far one of my favorite narrators. While this book is on the younger side of YA I think adults will be blown away at the beautiful balance between the young narrator, and the tough adult subject. We don't get lost in the tough subject matter, in fact I think this is a story that deals quiet well with the subject of loss and grief. Dooley gives Sasha such an amazing voice and with the platform of poetry gives her an even great platform for her voice. I never read a story that weaves poetry so seamlessly into the story. Sasha might make a few unwise decisions but not out of anger, she does it out of fear. You see a character who does the best she can and she has many faults, but you can't help but fall in love with her. After meeting more family living next to her foster mother Phyllis, she is terrified of losing someone else. I am such a huge fan of family relationships in YA books and I think that Dooley does a wonderful job of making relationships that are true to real life. This story is told only from the point of view of Sasha and while I would have loved to get into the heads of some of the other characters, I thought it was a great way to tell the story. You see it through her eyes and you can only see the situation the way she interprets. This story is not fast moving and is really about the growth and the lessons that Sasha goes through.
Dooley uses poetry as an outlet for Sasha, and we can see the way it helps Sasha really understand how she herself is feeling. The poems that Sasha writes are simple, but beautiful and add their own kind of magic to the story. I think the use of poems and the relationships that were built in the story just made it something that everyone should read.
What left me wanting more:
Being that there was only one point of view for this story I did feel like some of the characters weren't as in depth as I would have liked, but Sasha was such an amazing head to be in that it more than makes up for it. I was extremely happy with this book. The voice and characters are fresh and make you keep turning the pages until you're done. I wouldn't change a thing. Dooley has become an author I would gladly push on people.
The final verdict
Overall this is a book I would recommend to young and old, boy or girl. While it deals with death, the beauty is in Dooley's way of never losing hope. A beautiful story of love, loss and family, Free Verse delivers in the best way possible.