This novel in verse is strong and diverse, with clever turns of phrase and interesting connected characters that keep it from being mediocre. The story follows a group of students through their daily lives, tinged with assorted teen angst and beauty: a dying mom, a multicultural romance, love, consummated and unrequited. Grouped into sets, each section lists the voices that contribute to the section, and Levithan deftly conveys each speaker without naming him or her.
Occassionally the experimentations with form and style detracts from the content, but Levithan hits his mark with The Patron Saint of Stoners, humorous and heart-wrenching in one swoop, and A Cue from Nature: “Run outside during a thunderstom/That downpour, that conquered hesitation, that exhilaration/That’s what unlonely is like.” Possibility, the final poem is magnificant in it’s prose-like summation and brings the book full circle – like a ring.
The full representation of the teen experience makes the book a winner. The teal blue cover and claddagh ring on the cover give it a girly vibe. Purchase for your teens to sign over the deep truth of lines like “once time is lit, it will burn/ whether or not you’re breathing it in./ even after smoke becomes air/there is a memory of smoke.”
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog August 10, 2005.