Norton Young Readers, 2022. 198 pages.
Review written February 26, 2023, from a library book.
2023 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Finalist
Rex Ogle is the author of the amazing Free Lunch and Punching Bag, both of which were Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Those books tell about his difficult childhood and difficult teen years, dealing with poverty and abuse.
This book doesn't continue the story so much as look at the story again, this time in the light of the constant in his life -- his abuela.
Abuela now has dementia. Rex Ogle wrote this about writing this book:
A few years ago, after a particularly difficult call with Abuela - in which she forgot who I was halfway through - I sat down and cried. Then I wrote out a few words. Those words led to fragments of sentences. Those fragments led to verses. Those verses formed a poem, and before I knew it, the memories were flying out of me, all of them in verse.
In the foreword to this book of poems, he writes this tribute:
My abuela is the woman who encouraged me to read and write at an early age. Who bought groceries when my mom was unemployed and we were living on food stamps. She is the woman who offered her home to me when the violence at my mom's became too much. Abuela is the woman who got me off the streets after my father kicked me out for being gay. She told me if I wanted to be a novelist, then I should pursue it, that if I worked hard, I could accomplish anything. By every definition of the word, my grandmother is an angel. My own personal fairy godmother. Abuela is the only parent I've ever known who showed me truly unconditional love, kindness, and support.
This book is another version of the author's childhood and teen years. In this version, his abuela shines as a bright and beautiful example of unselfish, generous, unconditional love - going to a kid who needed it.