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FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. In a novel in verse, Lexi, a year after her baby half-sister's death, attempts to cope with the problems of everyday life as well as with her alcoholic father, now in jail, her anorexic, bipolar stepmother, and her autistic half-brother.
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Gr 9 Up—Issues of teen pregnancy, drug use, self-harm, alcoholism, autism, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrom all shape High's verse novel. Narrator Lexi, 16, lives with her previously incarcerated father, a vacuous and uneducated stepmother, and a brother who is severely autistic. Her mother was a stripper and saddled Lexi with what her a classmates call a "stripper" name. This could be—and sometimes is—a heavy-handed problem book. But the verse form serves the voice of Lexi well, and the poems feel authentic. The initial couplet ("My name is Lexi/(rhymes with sexy") is initially cringe-inducing, but readers begin to understand its aptness as more is revealed about Lexi and her family history. When the teen's life burdens become too much to bear, she goes to a psychiatric hospital, is healed, and eventually emerges strong enough to survive in her relatively unchanged circumstances. A quick read and a useful one, with some interesting examples of concrete verse, especially, "Life Eats Me Alive," which screams Lexi's anguish in varied fonts.—Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
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