THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Laura's Bookshelf: THE GIRL WHO FELL

Happy Poetry Friday. I've got a terrific YA novel and poem pairing to share with you this week.

Katya at Write. Sketch Repeat. is hosting
this week's Poetry Friday link up.
One of the best parts about being a debut novelist has been connecting with other children's authors in the class of 2016.

I loved THE GIRL WHO FELL by S.M. Parker. It’s contemporary YA about Zephyr, a star field hockey player who has her life together and her college plans in place, until she meets a boy. At first, it’s all racing heart beats and cute kissing at the playground after dark, but over time Alec goes from needy, to possessive and manipulative, to full on abusive stalker.

I have to admit that this book was difficult to read because of my own history. When I was in high school, an ex-boyfriend stalked me for several months. You can read about it here (scroll down to the UPDATE). 

I had to take it slow – a chapter or a few pages at a time. There were many times when I wrote Zephyr a note in the book: “No, Zee!” and “Wake up, Zephyr!” I was so invested in her character and in Zephyr finding her way back to herself.

Pre-order from your local indie bookstore
via Indiebound.
This contemporary YA launches on March 1, 2016. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

His obsession.
Her fall.

In this dark kissing book, high school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.


Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.


But love has a way of changing things.


Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.


Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?


But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.


So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.


If she waits any longer, it may be too late.



THE GIRL WHO FELL is appropriate for high schoolers and up.

Who will like it?
  • ·         Teens who like edgy romance.
  • ·         Athletes and kids who struggle to balance social life with commitments.
  • ·         Readers who love first person narrators.
What will readers learn about?
  • ·         Abuse is complicated. A victim can feel attracted to, and have a healthy sex life with, an abuser.
  • ·         Indicators that someone has the potential to be abusive or controlling, e.g. forbidding you to spend time with other friends and family.
  • ·         Especially for teens, the importance of putting your own needs first, before those of your romantic partner.
The poem I'm pairing with THE GIRL WHO FELL was published in Little Patuxent Review (the literary journal for which I edit poetry) earlier this year. It’s by Maryland poet and educator Rachel Eisler.

If I were Zephyr’s teacher, this is the poem I would hand to her, to remind her how strong she is as an athlete and as a young woman.

I shared the poem with Shannon Parker, who said, “I love how this turns objectification on its head and makes women have all the power.”

It’s Lovely to Watch Young Women
By Rachel Eisler

It’s lovely to watch young women
elbow opponents as they strive
in each others’ shining faces to make the shot.
They pound down the boards,
dribbling and swiveling, seek allies,
in the frantic five.

It’s lovely to watch young women,
so passionate and cool,
as the fouls squeak silent, the lines fade
into screens, fake-outs, and passes
to move and seize the ball.

Their pure ferocity
the urge to wrest
something from someone
because you want it more
right then and you
better best them.

Someday, it may get old or tame
headlong lose or wild win,
both such cool water to a woman
parched by politeness,
hungry for this fight.

Rachel Eisler teaches Upper School English at Garrison Forest School, working closely with colleagues in Grades Six through Twelve. She received her B.A. in English from Yale College and her M.A. in Poetry from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.  Before joining the GFS faculty in 2010, she taught at The National Cathedral School, The Bryn Mawr School, The Writing Seminars, and The University of Baltimore. Her poems have been featured on WYPR’s The Signal, and have appeared in The Baltimore SunThe New York Times, and The Urbanite.  Her first chapbook of poems was published in fall 2009. 

Thanks to Shannon and Rachel for their contributions to this post.

REMINDER to Poetry Friday bloggers: 

I still have a few spaces left for THE LAST FIFTH GRADE book vine. If you’d like a chance to meet Ms. Hill’s fifth grade poets before they debut, read more about it here or sign up now! I’m sending the Advanced Reader’s Copy out on Poetry Friday tour soon.

16 comments:

Diane Mayr said...

The book sounds too intense for me! But, I think the library's teens will probably like it.

In the poem, I really like this phrase, "parched by politeness." At times extreme politeness does seem to suck the lifeblood out you--whether you're on the giving or receiving end of that politeness.

Tabatha said...

I pretty much echo Diane's sentiment about The Girl Who Fell. It got really impressive reviews on Good Reads!

I particularly like the first three lines of the poem. It really draws you in quickly.

Irene Latham said...

Laura, I love that you kept going with the book even when it was emotionally triggering for you. There are SO MANY books like that for me. Instead of tossing them, it's wonderful practice just to GO SLOW. So much beauty in the world, so many ways we can grow if we are brave enough to do that. Thanks for sharing about the book... and SO EXCITED to meet that 5th Grade class! xo

Linda Baie said...

The book sounds like one I would want many young adolescents to read, to know that these events can happen & there is hope. With your connections to all these new books coming my list is growing bigger, Laura! The poem is a loving tribute to girls fighting for something more than the expected "parched politeness". Beautiful. Thanks for all!

jama said...

Thanks for this pairing, Laura. I'll have to mention the book to my niece, who reviews YA novels.

cb hanek said...

Thanks for sharing, pairing, and for coming out on top! God bless you; surly many young women will be helped by this post. So glad for that. Meekness isn't weakness; reminds me of the line about putting aside politeness...Strength of image and character for our girls--of all ages...bet there's still relational abuse even among Seniors--and I don't mean high school...

Linda said...

Laura, thanks for sharing this new YA novel. I'll be sure to look for it next March. I'm also very excited to meet those fifth graders of yours! We have a lot of wonderful books to look forward to next year!

Author Amok said...

Well said, Linda.

Author Amok said...

Thank you so much, Jama.

Author Amok said...

That's a good point. I often think anti-bullying programs in schools should start with the staff and teachers. We need to learn how to model good, positive relationship skills.

Author Amok said...

That's a good point. I often think anti-bullying programs in schools should start with the staff and teachers. We need to learn how to model good, positive relationship skills.

Author Amok said...

Thank you so much, Jama.

Author Amok said...

Well said, Linda.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Young relationships are so whirlwindish anyway– so easy to lose your way, or yourself, even without the added abuse. A wonderful pairing today, Laura.

Bridget Magee said...

Yikes, not sure I can read The Girl Who Fell just yet, my 18 year old daughter is being influenced in many inappropriate ways by a 44 year old guy (she quit college last month :( - a relationship that started out benign, but has turned scary. Your pairing poem is spot on.

Sally Murphy said...

Wow. This soudns like an intense read - which is why it is som important. I'll be looking out for it. And your pairing is perfect.