“She thought she was running toward home, but she was mistaken. She ran until she was dead tired.”

It’s been too long since I read a verse novel. Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (Greenwillow Books, 2016) reminded me of my love for them. As lyrical as it is heart-breaking, everything I could ask for in radiant words.

“we tend to forget they’re still wild.
Then one day they turn on us, snarling.”

Addie and Nick’s relationship didn’t have the most promising start, but they love each other and the sex is great. Addie’s on the cross country team at school, running is her release. She loves listening to Nick play bass in his not-so-talented band. Life’s good, until she misses her period.

“You know what it’s like
to wake up in a body no longer your own.”

Addie’s fear is writ large as she discovers she’s pregnant and wonders how she can possibly tell Nick or her parents. Her uncertainty in this difficult time. And how can life just continue, when so much has changed?

“Hurricane Addie,
the unnatural disaster,
whirling through
the living room.”

Addie’s Morality class is a regular reminder of her decision, as she wrestles with whether she made the right choice. Her classmate Allison doesn’t help, talking about a Christian anti-abortion organization that helps women “forgive themselves.” Addie’s realisation that she doesn’t need forgiveness for her decision is empowering, both for her and readers experiencing a similar situation.

I don’t much like reading books with religion, but I didn’t mind this aspect of Ask Me How I Got Here. Mainly due to Heppermann’s juxtaposition of the compassion possible from a belief system, so often depicted in opposition to abortion. Support and understanding from Addie’s family, friends and teachers allows her to mesh her decision with her beliefs. The list of resources for unwanted pregnancy at the end of the book includes Catholics for Choice, a happy revelation to me.

Addie compares her experience with Mary’s predicament. These poems are hilarious. Mary never needed a drugstore because Angel Gabriel does house calls!

dust jacket

There’s so much to love about the book design by Sylvie Le Floc’h. Talent for days. The picture of Addie by the lake, sliced and scratched up by her burdens.

cover design

The differing typography depending if the page is her everyday life, her poems, thoughts on What Would Mary Do, or the work she’s attempting for her Morality class.

internal design

Ask Me How I Got Here is an important book and Christine Heppermann writes this difficult subject with compassion and eloquence.

“Ask me how I got here
and I’ll say I must have

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Hepperman
yes the dog slobbered on my copy, the trials of reading with dogs are myriad