A debut collection of 73 short pieces of poetry and prose traces the gamut of adolescent emotions, from hopeful ebullience to disappointment and despair.
The poems and prose sketches in Williams’ volume capture the immediacy and intensity of passions during the teen years, a pivotal period of life when each experience seems to reveal a basic truth, and every passing sensation feels as if it will last forever. The poems read like a journal written in verse, as they express the ups and downs of youthful experience. Written from both male and female points of view, in a variety of verse structures and meters, some of the poems capture the tight rhymes and quick rhythms of rap music, others are lyrical, and one, “A Broken Heart,” dramatizes its subject by being written in the shape of a heart. Some pieces, such as “Tragedies” and “Stuck,” are prose paragraphs that convey pithy observations (“Try as we might, looking forward now, we will never reach the future—after all, we will always be stuck in the present”). Some of Williams’ revelations seem a bit simplistic for today’s world-wise teens, like “People Matter,” which begins: “There’s only one person anyone can be. / Only you can be you, and I can be me.” But many of the poems display a sharp and subtle perception, such as “A Child,” which captures the onrush of passing time in the line “Preteen eyes saying, ‘Catch me if you can,’ ” and the evocative “Our Generation,” in which even the young look back to simpler times: “We long for the days we can’t remember.” Williams is at her strongest when she describes the power of deep emotion, as in “Trust in Love,” which closes: “And there is nothing stopping you from hurting them, no walls to break through, / while they are simply trusting you not to break their heart.”
A moving and readable volume of verse that confronts universal themes of love, trust, and heartbreak in a modern vernacular.