The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos (Carolrhoda Lab 2019)
Reviewed by Kathryn Leonard-Peck
In this hybrid review, Leonard-Peck combines poetry and critical reading to map the emotional landscape of this stunning YA novel, which as a 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection and a 2018 New York Public Library Best Book for Teens. For more reviews that challenge the form, click here.
In this round of microreviews, we’re focusing on feelings, from one author’s illustrated year with Seasonal Affective Disorder to the complex emotions contained with three generations of an Indian family. These books focus on the emotional landscapes of their subjects–and ultimately advocate for a world in which art, and the complex experiences and emotions it evokes, is inherently valuable.
Karthik Sethuraman is an Indian-American living in California. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, AAWW, Hot Metal Bridge, and Fairy Tale Review, among others. One work, Saramakavi, was performed at the Asian Art Museum where he was a KSW writing fellow. His chapbook, Prayer Under Eyelids, is available from Nomadic Press.
tiny, beautifully made arrows of calcium carbonate,
I could hear it eating.
The velocity of the ill, however, is like the velocity of the snail
I am going to withdraw from the world
We so often treat things as other
In a box in a box
This poem was created using quotes from the book and notes from our Drizzle Summer Book Club discussion on The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. It was written collaboratively by Patricia Steckler, Claudine Mininni, Sarena Brown, and Rebecca Valley. You can find the writer bios here. To learn more about the book that inspired the poem, check out our micro review.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” starts Daphne du Maurier’s gothic classic, drawing readers into the privileged life of the de Winters and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Maxim de Winter’s first wife, Rebecca (1). Mrs. de Winter, Maxim’s second wife, serves as our eyes as we learn about the house’s inhabitants and customs, unraveling the multiple sides of Manderley and all its occupants. This is especially apparent in the novel’s titular character, Rebecca, although she never appears on the page herself. Rebecca’s larger-than-life presence casts a unique shadow upon each person she encounters. The people who survive Rebecca carry her memories and shape her legacy, not unlike some of history’s famous and forgotten women. As Mrs. de Winter searches for Rebecca’s truth, we begin to understand the impossibility of knowing a person, particularly, a woman, through the many layers of gossip, history, and bias.
After way too many years following an academic calendar, I still think of August as a month on the cusp of new beginnings. That’s why today we’re sharing our stories of transformation–of starting over in a new place, a new era of your life, even a new body.
In our books this month, a family of refugees rebuild their lives in a country that is not as magical as they once believed. The world literally pauses, waiting for one child to flip a switch. A woman turns into a wolf. Anything is possible in these books of transformation, which speak to the ways we are constantly changing, starting over, making ourselves new.
How long after he was gone would Yadriel be dreaming
The fullness of the family
they didn’t just take all pain
let people feel grief
it was important
to honor all those who make this community strong
loss of a loved one
Growth isn’t a deviation
growth is more
a sphere instead of a line
This poem was created using quotes from the book and notes from our Drizzle Summer Book Club discussion on The Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. It was written collaboratively by Ingrid Carabulea, Rey Katz, Tracy Vasquez, Sarena Brown, and Rebecca Valley. You can find the writer bios here. To learn more about the book that inspired the poem, check out our micro review.
special feature: Drizzle review summer book club micro reviews
In summer of 2021, Drizzle is launching our first ever live virtual event series! To see what’s ahead, check out these two micro reviews, written by our editors Sarena Brown and Rebecca Valley. Stay tuned for two more collaborative reviews on these titles, written by our book club participants.
In Midwest Gothic, her second collection of poetry, Laura Donnelly channels a speaker alternatively fascinated and fearful, youthful and wise, steadfast and skeptical. Through a rough yet rich expanse of memory and history, she seeks to both recover and reframe her past, a process as ominous as it is life-affirming. In doing so, Donnelly honors the resilience, creativity and legacy of her female ancestors, especially their ability to nourish a place into being, to maintain a home that not only withstands what is wild but welcomes it. As a revision to the ubiquitous patriarchal narratives the young speaker was exposed to, Donnelly posits women not just as the keepers and growers of an eternal garden, but also, subverting many Gothic tales, as the heroines of their own stories.Throughout the collection, we feel a complexity of emotions that is as unsettling as it is alluring, each poem a musical note that resounds into the vastness of history, building on previous notes, and both haunting and uplifting what’s to come.