Ordinary Hazards
"This powerful story, told with the music of poetry and the blade of truth, will help your heart grow."--Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak and Shout"[A] testimony and a triumph."--Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way DownIn her own voice, acclaimed author and poet Nikki Grimes explores the truth of a harrowing childhood in a compelling and moving memoir in verse.Growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a mostly absent father, Nikki Grimes found herself terrorized by babysitters, shunted from foster family to foster family, and preyed upon by those she trusted. At the age of six, she poured her pain onto a piece of paper late one night - and discovered the magic and impact of writing. For many years, Nikki's notebooks were her most enduing companions. In this accessible and inspiring memoir that will resonate with young readers and adults alike, Nikki shows how the power of those words helped her conquer the hazards - ordinary and extraordinary - of her life.

Ordinary Hazards Details

TitleOrdinary Hazards
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 8th, 2019
PublisherWordsong
ISBN-139781629798813
Rating
GenrePoetry, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Adult, Cultural, African American

Ordinary Hazards Review

  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    There's something about memoirs written in verse form that I find particularly appealing. There isn't as much detail and yet so much can be derived from a perfect metaphor, or from the feelings that come through the writer's words.Nikki Grimes wrote a beautiful and powerful memoir of her childhood. Her mother was paranoid schizophrenic and an alcoholic, her father often not around, and she and her sister spent many years in the foster care system. She describes how she felt being pas There's something about memoirs written in verse form that I find particularly appealing. There isn't as much detail and yet so much can be derived from a perfect metaphor, or from the feelings that come through the writer's words.Nikki Grimes wrote a beautiful and powerful memoir of her childhood. Her mother was paranoid schizophrenic and an alcoholic, her father often not around, and she and her sister spent many years in the foster care system. She describes how she felt being passed around, the loneliness of being without her sister, the confusion of why her parents were the way they were. Early on she discovered writing as a way to make sense of and cope with her feelings, and she recreates her childhood notebooks in this memoir. It is both painful and hopeful, a testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome.
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  • Paul Hankins
    January 1, 1970
    "It's a long story,/ but I am a poet./I can cut it short." (from the Prologue to ORDINARY HAZARDS)Full Disclosure: I've been sitting with Nikki Grimes's memoir, ORDINARY HAZARDS, and I have been waiting for months to write a review. The problem now? We are one month away from your sitting with the memoir and experiencing what early readers like Lester Laminack and Ed Spicer and I have been sitting with for most of 2019. I can tell you with great joy (and pride) that Nikki Grimes is a "It's a long story,/ but I am a poet./I can cut it short." (from the Prologue to ORDINARY HAZARDS)Full Disclosure: I've been sitting with Nikki Grimes's memoir, ORDINARY HAZARDS, and I have been waiting for months to write a review. The problem now? We are one month away from your sitting with the memoir and experiencing what early readers like Lester Laminack and Ed Spicer and I have been sitting with for most of 2019. I can tell you with great joy (and pride) that Nikki Grimes is a friend. No. She does not call me. We don't have lunch. I sense we might if we lived closer together. Or we might not. To give one another space to be, to poem, to make, and to garden. We are friends in the way that you know someone in this world sees you and stops by now and then to appreciate an idea. To push on a thought. To identify a random flower that has popped up in a garden. To tell you that you cannot read, early, the body of a speech to come and reminds you that there is a an ask and an answer. And then there might be the ask too much coupled with a need to wait. ORDINARY HAZARDS is born of a need to wait. To wait for the writer to present his, her, or their story with the sensitivity to self and to others and to tell that truth, even in light of sensitivity and truth, to tell the story completely. Heartedly. In light of hazards most ordinary. Nikki's truth is now here in front of us. What will we do now?ORDINARY HAZARDS is an important book. Not for what it reveals (yes, it does reveal), but for what it illuminates. Our best novelists for young people today present young people within the gamut of their daily lives, their hopes, their dreams, their concerns, and their obstacles. For her presence within the world of upper elem, middle grade, and young adult literature, it is authors like Nikki Grimes who have placed themselves in the spaces and the shelves. They have fought for the classroom space with their work over a number of years. They realize some successes here and there with this title or that one, but even these celebrate anniversaries and are repackaged which always makes me wonder if the re-packaging of back titles actually serve to remind us how old these books are (even in the presence of trumpeting books from the canon that are celebrating fifty or more years and still have a solid place in the canon). Nikki Grimes has been illuminating the experience of the young to the young adult and has earned, by way of her deft story telling and rendering in verse ideas that would take prose pages and pages to express. She has a corner of the room sharing space with Walter Dean Myers and Sharon Draper and Rita Williams Garcia and Sharon Flake and Angela Johnson and Jacqueline Woodson and Christopher Paul Curtis. She is an anchor within the community of writers of color who write for readers. And, now, Nikki Grimes works to make room for many more writers in an age calling for (and necessarily so) the need for diverse books and own voices. We desperately need the new voices. And they are ringing true. All the while. . .Nikki is still here doing the work. With ORDINARY HAZARDS, Nikki steps from the corners of her own experiences, shakes herself free from the lists of "authors you should know" to be seen. And to be known. With ORDINARY HAZARDS, Nikki stays true to the readers who have followed here to this new place of sharing her truth while she welcomes in new readers with a revealing look at her young and young adult life. And, ORDINARY HAZARDS will find itself in places perhaps Nikki's has not found audience. . .yet. As a adult memoir. As a collection of poetry. With ORDINARY HAZARDS, Nikki positions her personal story alongside titles like Margarita Engle's ENCHANTED AIR. It is my hope that the Lee Bennett Hopkins committee is seeing this new book. From the first page Nikki centers memoir as a genre that presents itself own sense of irony: to tell one's story in a way that might be of interest to another (when the default of any personal story is that it should be of interest to another person. . .Humanity 101). Nikki presents a definition for memoir: "a work of imperfect memory/in which you meticulously/capture all that you can recall,/and use informed imagination/to fill in what remains.""Informed imagination." A classroom teacher could have spent years in the classroom poring over the ideas presented by the experts in narrative writing and probably never have come upon, "informed imagination." "Filling in what remains" is the heart of ORDINARY HAZARDS. It centers the author and her experience and we, the reader, as a "reward" (perhaps) of staying with this author for a number of years to see all of the magic and wonder of her catalog illuminated, glowing now from the revealed truths of a life lived. And brought forward in stories we might share with young readers as a means of providing Rudine Sims Bishop's windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors. In ORDINARY HAZARDS, Nikki comes to the gazing glass, reflected in the mirror of her past, to slide open the door to a time wherein her experiences are both sadly common and strangely uncommon all at once. And brings it all to us in her gift of verse. "Informed imagination.""The Naming" is the first poem from Book I of ORDINARY HAZARDS: "Nikki is/the first invention for which/I accept full responsibility." I am shortening a most powerful stanza here, but from the first words of the book, we see "ladders" to other works wherein the centering of the importance of names and how we get them are a theme. "The Naming" is quite possibly the best, quick, mentor text in exploring one's name that we have seen in some time and I do not doubt that this passage, the first poem within the book, will enter the canon for mentor texts in inviting students to write their narratives of nomenclature. Book One takes the readers from Nikki's birth in Harlem, 1950 and takes us through the first five years of her life. We meet mother and sister Carol. We also meet the personifications of paranoid schizophrenia and the "drowning" and the "war" to come that that will take its POWs in the persons of Nikki and Carol who will spend days in dark closets (from where we pull the title of the memoir). We learn about the child's belief in prayer and the cultures response to orphaned children.In my original notes, I wrote: "A Proper Introduction" appears on page 28, 10% which means that ORDINARY HAZARDS presents the urgency of time and place in front of the subject of the book." I wrote this note to remind myself that the sharing of macro, meso, and micro setting can be a powerful approach to knowing how we center the character, the poet. . .the memoirist. In her "proper introduction" what might be seen as self-deprecation is the poet's self-description that brings us closer to a figure we might have missed passing on the street. We won't miss her poring through these pages. Throughout the book, Nikki guides the reader through italicized vignettes called "Mystery of Memory." Here, Nikki continues to point back to "informed imagination" the way an expository writer might point evidence back to a thesis. In the first of these vignettes, Nikki implores, from her position as author and storyteller, for "order/logical sequences,/and smooth transitions." As I read this vignette, I think of what we ask from memoir for our student writers. Here, an accomplished, award-winning poet begs for a "modicum of skill." She asks, "Where is the chronology of a life/chaotic from the start?" Isn't this the question of memoir? Should it be as we approach the genre with our younger writers. To see Nikki Grimes struggle inside of this genre even as she is presenting it is a model of vulnerability that comes with the exploration and the exposition of a life. In Book Two, Nikki walks us through 1955-1960, a life spent with the Buchanan family. Here, our poet explores new family dynamics, checks the locks on doors to assure she will not be sealed up, mute a voice that will eventually help her to become a storyteller, befriends the largely-ignored dog who notices her, discovers lilacs (a connection she will share with a classroom teacher years later), and finds the power of a notebook. "Journey" is our introduction to Nikki's record keeping, even if incomplete and in need of the "filling in": the blank page/was the only place/I could make sense/of my life/or keep record of/each space/I called home."The daily march of words/parading from my pen/kept me moving/forward."From this point on within ORDINARY HAZARDS we get glimpses of the notebook entries. The first depicting a revelation of the deeper parts of her foster matriarch. Small, short pieces carry a large load from the memoirist and, within the first, a jelly jar of lilacs elicit the response of love earnestly sought by Nikki in her first ten years of life.In Book Two, we see a world of words begin to come to life for the author. The origins of WORDS WITH WINGS? Perhaps. And what we might hope for having fallen in love with this little book. Book Three takes us through three years of the author's life. In "Mystery of Memory #2," Nikki begins with "Trauma is a memory hog." We hope, removed from Nikki's experiences, that we might get a glimpse into the author's early school experiences. Perhaps we want Nikki to explore and to expose these moments that we, ourselves, have let slip into the memory loss that eventually becomes warm and fluid, but never solid. What we want from our poets many times is what we could not hold onto for ourselves. We make the writer, the poet, do this work. Nikki apologetically reveals the gaps here and ends this vignette: "I've bridge the gaps/with suspension cables/forged of steeling gratitude/for having survived my past/at all."As I revisit my notes from February's early reading of the book, I note that this is where I shared a Facebook message with Nikki and I agreed to slow the reading down considerably. I was walking along a suspension bridge now. Nikki keeps these lines tight so that they will not wiggle the walker too much in moving through the narrative. Nikki's memoir is our path and our safety net. Book Three brings Nikki home and the presentation of the text becomes a combination of poetry and prose, each giving and taking and adding to the other upon the page as Nikki presents neighborhood struggles, the call to be part of gang politics, the conflict between her innate gift for story keeping and story telling measured against her having to play catch-up at midterm from entering class and coursework later in the year (later, the poet who had to once play catch-up becomes a one who would be awarded full-tuition to schools she would decline and schools she would ultimately enter and within which she would thrive). The library becomes a safe haven. A library card becomes a passport. We can live through. We can learn of. We can breathe. We can bleed. A cigarette burn a reminder of all that can be taken from us in a flash. From the flammable. We can live. We can lose. Ordinary Hazards.The un-ordinary hazard. The extraordinary hazard is also revealed in "Broken" from Book Three. This is a particularly painful revelation from the author and it draws from me a sort of wish (another ordinary hazard of the survivor) that all I had in common with this author was a love for lilacs. As the "books" of ORDINARY HAZARDS advance the narrative, the mystery of memory becomes more "mastery" like as Nikki recalls the reunion and deepening of her awareness of what is happening to and around her. Her exposure to learning and to literature and to life are enveloped now in social unrest in response to assassinations. Anchored in fundamental literature introduced to her by her father that will help to moor the author to the literature she will bring back to readers in the future. A page turner, readers will be tempted to move quickly through the book. Nikki teases this response out of the reader whose natural curiosity will want to know more. As this reader learns more, he, she, or they are forced to pause, an most ironic inner response to "tell me more."There is so much to share in a life. Nikki's life shared in ORDINARY HAZARDS make it a natural "ladder" for her other books. For books. For the power of narrative as a means of showcasing situations set to harm, to kill, that become spaces for allowing survival to settle.Nikki Grimes is a treasure of elementary, middle grade, and young adult literature. She takes her place now in memoir, a place carefully-considered in the presentation of the vulnerable child who becomes the venerable author/poet. She continues to give to us from her craft, her continued explorations of what it means to create and to curate art, and in her encouragement of classroom teachers, like this one, to consider story, in all of its forms. And informing sources. Grimes's imagination is a revelation. And her revelation is an inspiration.Inspiration. . .can drive adoption. Of texts. And, subsequently, of stories. As soon as this classroom teacher can make it happen, ORDINARY HAZARDS goes on the classroom reading list for Room 407.
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  • Stephanie Bange
    January 1, 1970
    Note: Reviewed from an ARC.If you are to read one book this year, this should be the one you should pick up. Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir is an amazing peek into the formative years of poet Nikki Grimes. Not only does this work detail her faith, resiliency, and strength of will, but it also informs on her creative mind and writing process.In this free verse memoir, Grimes tells of her childhood – from her birth in Harlem through the time she finally leaves her mother’s chaotic ho Note: Reviewed from an ARC.If you are to read one book this year, this should be the one you should pick up. Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir is an amazing peek into the formative years of poet Nikki Grimes. Not only does this work detail her faith, resiliency, and strength of will, but it also informs on her creative mind and writing process.In this free verse memoir, Grimes tells of her childhood – from her birth in Harlem through the time she finally leaves her mother’s chaotic home and finds stability after moving in with her older sister, Carol. She opens up about many of the traumas she experienced while living with an alcoholic mother who struggled with mental illness: rejection, abuse by caregivers, racism, rape, gang violence, and her father’s death. She balances these events with uplifting experiences and people: living with a loving foster care family, a teacher who encourages her to write – expecting no less than Nikki’s best work, going to the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, singing in the choir at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, discovering Michaux’s (bookstore), making life-long friendships, and the love, support, and encouragement from her sister and father. Through her father, Grimes was exposed to some of the most important authors, musicians and artists in Harlem at the time. It was faith, hope and love that carried her spirit through a difficult childhood.The book is subdivided into four sections called “Books”. Each covers different time periods of her life, from 1950-55, 1955-60, 1960-63, and 1963-66. Since her mother destroyed the many journals she kept as a child, Grimes had to rely on the memories of her friends, her sister, and her own painful remembrances in order to reconstruct this free verse masterpiece of strength and resilience. She includes some poems named “Notebook” sprinkled throughout, ostensibly to recreate some of her journal entries destroyed by her mother.One could use many adjectives to describe her childhood journey – heartbreaking, horrifying, harrowing – but none of these words includes the depth of bravery, gumption, faith, and external support that Grimes leaned on in order to deal with such a relentlessly excruciating childhood. Told as no one else could, Grimes makes readers feel each horrible turn experienced and the joy felt when things went “her way”. A must read for Nikki Grimes fans!Highly Recommended for grades 9-up.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Extraordinary writing that touches every part of the heart and soul. Grimes' poetry is exquisite and there isn't a single poem in this book that wasn't like taking a master class in writing. Every emotion and experience becomes a part of the reader.Even more extraordinary is the story of searing childhood experiences that Grimes managed to surmount, learn from and triumph over. Inspiring is an over-used word but this memoir is inspiring.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir--I tried to fix title/ISBN glitch but couldn't. Poignant, beautiful, and even more meaningful because of a wonderful dinner I had with Grimes several years ago at TLA.
  • Ledayne
    January 1, 1970
    As an aspiring young writer, Grimes told her mentor, "I want to write books about some of the darkness I've seen, real stories about real people, you know? But I also want to write about the light, because I've seen that, too. That place of light -- it's not always easy to get to, but it's there. It's there." In the author's notes at the end of the book, she writes, "I hope my story helps you to live more fully into your own." The best I can say is that she has done what she set out to do. This As an aspiring young writer, Grimes told her mentor, "I want to write books about some of the darkness I've seen, real stories about real people, you know? But I also want to write about the light, because I've seen that, too. That place of light -- it's not always easy to get to, but it's there. It's there." In the author's notes at the end of the book, she writes, "I hope my story helps you to live more fully into your own." The best I can say is that she has done what she set out to do. This beautiful memoir conveyed through poetry makes both darkness and light achingly real -- the way our relationships both cut and heal, the way one friendship or one mentor or even one comment from a stranger can change the trajectory of a life, the way some of us are able to find the light and others never do. This lovely story does indeed help me to live into my own. I am grateful to have read this book.
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  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    Nikki Grimes memoir is a must-read. The books covers what she can remember of the incidents involving her childhood with an alcoholic and schizophrenic mother, a distant father and an abusive step father. The story is told in poetic prose and is just beautiful.
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  • Shauna Yusko
    January 1, 1970
    The writing!
  • Mary Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    A FANTASTIC memoir that should be added to all high school collections!! Beautiful writing. Highly recommend this one! Out in October.
  • Sandy Brehl
    January 1, 1970
    The many starred reviews, awards, and raves only scratched the surface of why I was eager to read this recent book by Nikki Grimes. I have loved every book she has written, spanning many ages and genres. In fact, what draws me to her work is the talent she has, in every case, to make the words flow off the page and into my heart as if hearing a dear friend bare her soul. Each line and page conveys soul and significance, the text ringing in my ears as if performed at a spoken word event. This mem The many starred reviews, awards, and raves only scratched the surface of why I was eager to read this recent book by Nikki Grimes. I have loved every book she has written, spanning many ages and genres. In fact, what draws me to her work is the talent she has, in every case, to make the words flow off the page and into my heart as if hearing a dear friend bare her soul. Each line and page conveys soul and significance, the text ringing in my ears as if performed at a spoken word event. This memoir is a page-turning, heart-tugging revelation, despite the author's admission of choppy, distorted post-traumatic memories. On one hand Grimes unfolds her life story as if in a series of conversations over coffee or tea. On the other hand, her meticulous craft is seamlessly present in every line, there for the taking after first digesting the feast of the whole text.It's true that her life story will reflect the traumas and struggles of others, situations rarely dealt with so honestly and deeply. That's a much-needed rationale for the work. It's equally true that this memoir allows those of us who had a loving and secure life to experience vicariously an emotional shadow of the details and impact of her vulnerable and vicious early life. I have long admired the work and work ethic of Grimes before this.This book allows readers and admirers, like me, to see her and know her with a connection and depth I never imaged possible. Thank you to Grimes for sharing the TRUTH of her life, despite her inability to recall all the facts. Truth matters more.I had already purchased two copies as gifts, before reading it. Now I'm off to buy more.
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  • Tasha
    January 1, 1970
    Grimes writes a searing verse memoir of her years growing up with a mother suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia. Removed from her mother at a young age and separated from her older sister, Grimes found a loving foster family where she discovered the power of writing her feelings and experiences out on paper. She visited her mother occasionally during that time and they were eventually reunited when her mother got sober and remarried. But it wasn’t that simple or easy. Grimes was trapped i Grimes writes a searing verse memoir of her years growing up with a mother suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia. Removed from her mother at a young age and separated from her older sister, Grimes found a loving foster family where she discovered the power of writing her feelings and experiences out on paper. She visited her mother occasionally during that time and they were eventually reunited when her mother got sober and remarried. But it wasn’t that simple or easy. Grimes was trapped in a home filled with a cycle of addiction, mental illness and sexual abuse from her stepfather. Told with a strong sense of hope and resilience, this book is a brave look back into a traumatic childhood.Grimes has created a book that carries readers back into her previous experiences, showing how she survived, how writing helped, and how she found hope and strength in people other than her mother. Grimes has recreated some of her childhood and teen journals which were destroyed. In these small glimpses told in the voice of her youth she shows her confusion and strength vividly.Throughout the book, Grimes mentions that she doesn’t have clear memories of much of her youth due to the trauma that was inflicted upon her. Her willingness to explore such painful subjects even though her memories are incomplete or entirely gone is a concrete example of her resilient spirit and hope.A powerful and poetic look at trauma and the building of a new life. Appropriate for ages 16-adult.
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  • Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
    January 1, 1970
    Ordinary Hazards : A Memoir by Nikki Grimes 336 pages. Boyds Mills Press, OCTOBER 2019 $20Language: PG13 (20 swears, 0 'f' 1 'n'); Mature Content: PG (maturation); Violence: R (assaults)BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGHAuthor Nikki Grimes recounts her experience growing up with a schizophrenic mother, an absent father, an abusive step father, and time spent in foster care. She and her sister were separated and placed in foster care for many Ordinary Hazards : A Memoir by Nikki Grimes 336 pages. Boyds Mills Press, OCTOBER 2019 $20Language: PG13 (20 swears, 0 'f' 1 'n'); Mature Content: PG (maturation); Violence: R (assaults)BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGHAuthor Nikki Grimes recounts her experience growing up with a schizophrenic mother, an absent father, an abusive step father, and time spent in foster care. She and her sister were separated and placed in foster care for many years, although Nikki eventually moved back home with her mother, her life was fraught with uncertainty, abuse, and people who didn't believe in her. Moving and poignant, this carefully constructed memoir in verse is achingly sad and beautifully hopeful.Lisa Librarian https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/2019...
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Nikki Grimes is one of my favorite writers, gathering beautiful words in her notebooks over the years, which are now mixed with memories in Ordinary Hazards (coming 10/08/19 -- thank you for providing ARCs, WordSong/Highlights).The content is dark, yet hopeful. The words are tragic, yet inspirational. Some poems made me laugh ("Math Madness") and more made me cry ("Reunion"). Ms. Grimes shares everything with the reader, making the reader feel her pain, believe in God, and hope for t Nikki Grimes is one of my favorite writers, gathering beautiful words in her notebooks over the years, which are now mixed with memories in Ordinary Hazards (coming 10/08/19 -- thank you for providing ARCs, WordSong/Highlights).The content is dark, yet hopeful. The words are tragic, yet inspirational. Some poems made me laugh ("Math Madness") and more made me cry ("Reunion"). Ms. Grimes shares everything with the reader, making the reader feel her pain, believe in God, and hope for the future, all at once. The cover of the book reveals a beautiful, silvery sparkling butterfly; that's Ms. Grimes -- a cocooned child who emerges as a powerful and poetic, soulful adult."Words have the power to change a life, the power to save a life." The last poem is the perfect, gripping ending to a heartfelt story of a human. Thank you, Ms. Grimes, for your words.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Nikki Grimes memoir in verse tells her story from childhood up through her teen years. As she explains in her Author's Note, she has memories that are missing and no longer has the notebooks she was recording her life in at the time, but that makes the verse format feel that much more appropriate, as she is stringing her memory fragments together, they are separate, but they make a whole. I very recently read Shout! by Laurie Halse Anderson, and these two works together, so similar but so differ Nikki Grimes memoir in verse tells her story from childhood up through her teen years. As she explains in her Author's Note, she has memories that are missing and no longer has the notebooks she was recording her life in at the time, but that makes the verse format feel that much more appropriate, as she is stringing her memory fragments together, they are separate, but they make a whole. I very recently read Shout! by Laurie Halse Anderson, and these two works together, so similar but so different, give me hope that more women can find the courage to tell their stories as they remember them, giving others hope that wen they are in darkness, they can persist to find the light again. Powerful. Review from galley.
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  • Miz Lizzie
    January 1, 1970
    Nikki Grimes' memoir in verse reveals both the deep pain and tragedies of her childhood as well as the hope and help she received, especially through finding her voice through writing. This is an extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman who not only survived but flourished by holding on to every bit of love and support she received and by practicing true forgiveness for the deliberate and inadvertent pain she lived through. A testament to the power of even the smallest moments of love an Nikki Grimes' memoir in verse reveals both the deep pain and tragedies of her childhood as well as the hope and help she received, especially through finding her voice through writing. This is an extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman who not only survived but flourished by holding on to every bit of love and support she received and by practicing true forgiveness for the deliberate and inadvertent pain she lived through. A testament to the power of even the smallest moments of love and encouragement, including being able to see oneself through art, music, and words by others who look like you and have lived similar lives.Book Pairings:Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, another powerful memoir in verse.
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  • Jaymi
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher. No review was expected, I am choosing to review this in the hopes more people find and read this important book.I went to the Seattle ALA in January for a book signing of my own. While there I carefully avoided the grabby-hand syndrome of taking ALL the books. I allowed myself a small selection. The cover grabbed my eye, and when I opened the book to reveal verse, I slipped a copy into my bag. I’m so glad I did.Nikki has b Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher. No review was expected, I am choosing to review this in the hopes more people find and read this important book.I went to the Seattle ALA in January for a book signing of my own. While there I carefully avoided the grabby-hand syndrome of taking ALL the books. I allowed myself a small selection. The cover grabbed my eye, and when I opened the book to reveal verse, I slipped a copy into my bag. I’m so glad I did.Nikki has been through A LOT. Born to a mother with schizophrenia, a father who wasn’t sure how to be a dad, and an older sister who did her best to help raise her… trauma was a huge part of her growing up. She found a small voice at six and began writing down her thoughts, stories, and poems. Anything to help her deal with her life and the demands of growing up in the 50s and 60s.This book is beautifully written in verse. I found myself identifying a lot with what she had to say. Surviving traumatic experiences is rough. It does erase a huge part of the moments we grow up in. This book helped me see where my own memory gaps are and taught me that writing continues to be an important method I have to healing myself. I can only hope to write a poignant memoir as Nikki Grimes has. Thank you so much for writing this book. It has helped me, and I wish I could give you a massive hug.
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  • Tracey
    January 1, 1970
    adult/teen diverse memoir in verse (childhood trauma growing up in nyc with mostly absent dad, mom with alcoholism/schizophrenia, 2 foster families, and abusive stepdad).*reviewed by uncorrected galley *a quick read (only takes a couple hours or so) but compelling and full of hope--Nikki of course turned her love of books and writing into a very successful career, and even gets to rub elbows with the likes of James Baldwin, but she had to survive a lot to get here. Nikki Grimes adult/teen diverse memoir in verse (childhood trauma growing up in nyc with mostly absent dad, mom with alcoholism/schizophrenia, 2 foster families, and abusive stepdad).*reviewed by uncorrected galley *a quick read (only takes a couple hours or so) but compelling and full of hope--Nikki of course turned her love of books and writing into a very successful career, and even gets to rub elbows with the likes of James Baldwin, but she had to survive a lot to get here. Nikki Grimes, thank you for sharing your story.
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  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    "Search my life for luck, and bad is all you'll find. Keep an eye out for grace, though. Hard evidence appears round every corner. It is the invisible bridge spanning the abyss, the single light that outstrips the dark every time." -Page 39Wow. This books incredible. Not just for teens, for everyone. A memoir written in verse, but not in a highfalutin way. A beautiful, poetic, emotional, and accessible way.
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  • Sue Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    This book is difficult to get through in parts - Grimes experienced some terrible abuse and neglect as a child which she chronicles here in spare but vivid detail. But throughout her difficulties as a child and teen, she found strength and hope in books, her own writing, and a few key people who were there to comfort and encourage her when she most needed it. Highly recommended for more mature readers.
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  • Jennisen
    January 1, 1970
    It is amazing how so much beauty, grace, hope, and faith can live on in a person who has lived through hardship. I am amazed at the beauty of Nikki Grimes' poetry and the elegance with which she shares her story. Thank you, Ms. Grimes, for sharing your story. I am grateful for the chance to read an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Carli
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5. Finished this up during down time at my librarian conference today. Grimes tells her childhood stories in chunks. She breaks up spans of years based on what was happening at the time. Her childhood was rough, and the graphic details leave this one best suited for grades 9+. Hand this to students who want to know that someone else is dealing with tough stuff. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Finished this up during down time at my librarian conference today. Grimes tells her childhood stories in chunks. She breaks up spans of years based on what was happening at the time. Her childhood was rough, and the graphic details leave this one best suited for grades 9+. Hand this to students who want to know that someone else is dealing with tough stuff.
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  • Laurel Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    “In the course of this remarkable memoir in verse, Nikki Grimes shows how grace, wisdom, and the power of words can help a brave soul conquer the hazards—ordinary and extraordinary —of life.”—from the cover flapI can’t say it any better than that. This is a beautiful book about a beautiful life.
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  • Valerie
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written memoir of resilience and healing penned by the fabulous Nikki Grimes. Between meditations on the nature of memory, she captures the darkness and light of her childhood experiences with vulnerability and courage. Written in verse, it is a quick but captivating read, and one that I know I will read again.
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  • Julia Walker
    January 1, 1970
    I am thrilled that this book was written because there are so many children and young adults dealing with mental illness in their families and this book gives them a place to go to find validation, courage and words to help them process their situation and evaluate their lives. One of the best memoirs I have ever read!
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Ordinary Hazards is a deeply moving personal memoir where Nikki Grimes shares her challenges in childhood, navigating life through her mother’s addiction/illness, along with her discovery in the power of words and much more. An important testimony to be shared! This is an ARC I picked up at ALA Mid-Winter from Boyds Mills & Kane.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I have read many of Nikki Grimes' books, but her memoir and most recent novel in verse, Ordinary Hazards, blew me away. Reading about little girl Nikki, craving love and stability, finding common bonds with music & writing, and raw emotions & feist and oh my that last page!
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    (I won an ARC of this memoir in a Goodreads Giveaway).A beautifully crafted heartbreaking and inspiring memoir that perfectly encapsulates the tribulations and triumphs of Grimes's formative years.
  • MaryLibrarianOH
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written memoir. Grimes’ story is personal, a childhood that wasn’t always pretty or safe, but her strength and determination shine through. Truly a talented writer and amazing human being.
  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    This book speaks to the power of poetry, of words finely crafted to touch the soul of everyone. Totally amazing, set aside the time to immerse yourself in this book in one sitting - it will be worth it!
  • Kip
    January 1, 1970
    What a stunning book. I'd write a review, but I'm speechless. The tagline on the cover says it all:Words have the powerto change a life,the power to save a life. This book is going to change and save lives.
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