High school freshman Roman Santi has everything -- good looks, great friends, a mansion with an Infinity swimming pool -- except the one thing he really wants. A relationship with his father. When Roman's life gets turned upside down (thanks mom!?) he is forced to leave his pampered Hollywood lifestyle and move into his grandparents' Midwestern home. Sleeping on a lumpy pullout sofa and starting at a new high school is the WORST but Roman’s life starts to look up when his pink-haired friend Zuzu, and his crush, a classmate named Claire, introduce him to performance poetry through the high school's Spoken Word Club. While his mom is flying back and forth to L.A. to try to return them to the life they had, Roman becomes part of a diverse group of characters that challenge his rather privileged view of the world. Through Spoken Word, Roman recognizes the hole in his own life he needs to fill and discovers his voice. Spoken Word leads Roman on a journey of new friendships, first love, and finding the dad he never knew. Spoken is an uplifting, funny and heartfelt coming of age story that captures how the honesty of performance poetry binds together students from all different walks of life and forever changes Roman's future.
Although I had heard some spoken poetry before, I never realized that there was a whole movement behind it. I really was enlightened on this.
I love Roman's voice in this novel and it seemed really relatable to teens. The story went rather quickly and it is fun and quick read. I enjoyed Roman as a character as his story arc was pretty dramatic. His mom did frustrate me as she seemed quite immature at the beginning of the story although she also did grow quite a bit as a person. The contrast between LA and Chicago in the story is quite unique and I enjoyed how Roman adapted to these differences.
Some things that left me wanting more was that the story was a little slow in places and there wasn't a lot of action in the story. Also, I would have liked to learn more about some of the side characters such as Roman's girlfriend. I never really got a sense of who she was.
Although, I don't think spoken word poetry is for me, I really enjoyed learning about it. I think this is a great book for teens who are looking for a constructive outlet for things they are going through.
Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
Roman is living the good life and he knows it, but it isn’t any different than the lives of all of his friends. Backyard swimming pools, indoor screening rooms, and expensive sports cars for everyone are a common thing. It is a good life. And then it happens. Roman’s mother pulls another famous stunt and Roman finds himself thrust back to Chicago to live with his grandparents in their average, ordinary neighborhood. As Roman dreams of returning to California, he is surprised to realize that average and ordinary are actually not bad. When he learns about Spoken Word, he finds his niche. He is a natural born poet. As his mother begins to evolve into a better, grown-up version of herself, Roman finds his birth father, helping her to resolve a past that will impact Roman’s life forever.
Spoken, a novel by Melanie Weiss, is a true rite of passage in the life of a fifteen-year-old boy. In this world of broken relationships and unresolved family issues, Weiss finds a way to successfully alter the life of the main character, but also bring a secondary character to her own epiphany. The language is fresh and the theme of Spoken is an interesting addition to YA fiction. While a story of self-discovery, Spoken lends itself to a different curricular option for teachers, a world of possibilities to young readers, and a special inspiration to biological parents. I really enjoyed Spoken and look forward to future storytelling from Melanie Weiss.