Trying to escape their broken worlds, two teens fall in love with devastating results.
The story begins with the first meeting between Random Boy and Forgotten Girl. They are never given proper names, and their labels indicate their template relationship—“insert your name here,” Jaskulka seems to invite readers. Forgotten Girl and Random Boy write their first-person free-verse poems in notebooks—this is the structure of the narrative—sharing their doubts, fears, hopes and needs as they fall in love and hope to erase the pain of their home lives. Readers learn that Forgotten Girl’s father has recently abandoned her, and Random Boy’s father physically abuses both Random Boy and his mother. Eventually the love between Random Boy and Forgotten Girl teeters into obsession and then worse. “As much as he loves / is as hard as he hits, / which makes the pain / reassuring / in a sick way.” Why Random Boy begins abusing Forgotten Girl and why she stays with him (ultimately getting herself out) is told with such complete believability that the descent seems almost foregone, given the wounds that each has brought to the relationship. Jaskulka’s narrative explores the hows and whys of an abusive teenage relationship with heartbreaking honesty, and her delicate touch renders the dark story even more powerful.
Graceful. Searing. Haunting. (Verse fiction. 12-17)