Review: The Places We Sleep by Caroline Brooks DuBois

The place we Sleep is a poem about the aftermath of 9/11 in the emotions of a pre-teen girl meant for middle schoolers. The cover attracted me to the story and I got to listen to some very interesting stories told in verses in open mic sessions and wondered how that art went.

The emotions are there, all intertwined between growing up, the unrooted feelings of the hero always following her parents to their new destinations, fitting in, being lonely, or worst having a friend she knows she’ll have to leave, her difficulty grappling with her growing and developing body, the grief of losing loved ones and the uncomprehending fear that followed up 9/11. I was 16 when it happened, I am not American, but I remember the whole world just stopped and held its breath wondering what it all meant. 

This book can plunge the new generation into what it felt like. The verses add emotion and beauty to the text, but might make young readers more distant to the story too. Or they might be able to take quotes from it and sing it out, as it really flows on the tongue. Maybe that could be an interesting text to read allowed (admittedly embarrassing to most teens who probably don’t want to talk about periods).

I really liked that the book addressed the issue of the paranoia and xenophobia that followed the events and the parallel between her, the new kid from the army family verses the new kid from a Muslim family is heart wrenching. The tolerance message is crucial in the world we currently live in.

This is an interesting book for its format, and the topic is very well treated despite the obvious limitations of verse text. I recommend this book to poetry inclined young readers.

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