Back in January I featured Madeleine Kuderick, using the who, what, where, when, why format to talk about her forthcoming YA novel, Kiss of Broken Glass (HarperTeen, Sept. 2014). Since then I have had the privilege of reading the ARC on the OneFourKidLit tour, and now I want to and need to talk about her book.
It’s breathtaking. It’s written in verse, which of course I love immediately, and it is based on the true-life story of her own daughter, which I admire and applaud even more. But that aside, it deals with a heart wrenching occurrrence—cutting— in a manner both poignant and sensitive.
The opening line caught me off-guard. The protagonist is being “Baker Acted” which in Florida means she, Kenna, has earned an involuntary psychiatric exam without her consent for cutting herself in the school bathroom. The book spans the seventy-two hours of her internment during which she observes, interacts with, and learns from a colorful cast of characters and takes the first steps toward confronting the demon head-on. Kuderick is careful to emphasize that this brief stay is not meant to cure the problem, but rather to stabilize a crisis situation and evaluate what steps might be taken towards more complete recovery.
Kuderick’s acknowledged “hundreds of hours” of researching blogs and Tumblr pages of teens struggling with cutting, along with the first-hand experience with her daughter, bring a stark reality and authenticity to her story. As a recently retired middle school teacher, I found the experimental beginnings and totally addictive progressions of students with this affliction to be both realistic and heartbreaking.
And verse lends itself so beautifully to this kind of story. Here’s Kenna, at the beginning:
I feel the calm,
the sheer weightlessness
of zero worry.
I’m floating on a smooth glass pond
with bottle-nosed endorphins
swimming all around,
splashing their tails,
smiling their perpetual smiles.
And here’s Kenna reconsidering:
They’re the best hands I’ve ever drawn.
And they’re not hiding inside sleeves, either,
with just the fingertips poking out,
holding the fabric tight so the cotton won’t roll up.
They’re out in the light. Palms open.
With soft, slender fingers and just enough
lines and creases to make them look real.
They’re the kind of hands an art teacher might
hold up in front of the class and while the other kids
roll their eyes or crumple up their own papers,
the teacher keeps gushing away.
I mean look at these hands, she might say.
So full of hope.
Last week I mentioned that Helene Dunbar’s recent book, These Gentle Wounds, would be an asset to any school counselor’s lesson about child abuse. Likewise, The Kiss of Broken Glass would be a powerful tool and discussion starter on this troubling occurrence in the middle and upper school population. What about you? Have you known anyone who has had a brush with this addiction?
Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.
Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?