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These Are Not the Words

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Member Reviews

Harrowing and realistic story of parental mental illness / addiction. I think young readers will relate to the clear tone and lyrical writing style.
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This semi-autobiographical novel does not follow the typical format of a Middle Grade novel, because the novel was a  told through the use of poetry to tell the story. The book required a close reading, which was unusual for Middle Grade
The main character was
Miranda Billie Taylor
She was named after the Jazz singer Billie Holiday, and she lived with her Mom, Pop, and Ira and she lived on
14th street, Stuyvesant town
Island of Mahattan
New York
Miranda's mom was trying to improve their lives by pursuing  an art degree,. Although her Pop was not thrilled with his wife" school. and Miranda's mom just wanted a fresh start
Miranda's father was a drug abuser and Miranda was concerned and and she wrote poetry that reflected the feelings she had for her dad and that sometimes swollows some pills to stay awake;
Sing on a hill
The grass is thrilled
Just to near you
And now that you'born
The earth can stand still
The spring is your morning
Miranda, along with her Mom, Pop, and Ira moved to a new address;
147 East  17tyh Street;When Brown is Gray
A brownstone is a building made of that's made of brown stoneUptown the Brownstone are burnt sienna or elegant sand.
But number 147 East 17th Street  is a brownstone that's tombstone gray, 
Not raw sienna missed with indigo and lake, not soft like clay
I would encourage this book for for any reader. I thoroughly enjoyed every word, and the way Amanda West Lewis  used  used poetry to write the story and I would like to reader more that she has written. 
I would like to thank Amanda West Lewis, Groundwood Books, NetGalley for the privilege to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Poetic look into life with a parent suffering from a mental illness. The narrator, Missy, invites the reader into the exciting, turbulent world created by her father, an ad exec who really wants to be a musician.  We see he downward spiral through Missy's eyes as she begins to understand all the different aspects of her father. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC.
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These Are Not the Words is the somewhat true story of Missy and her mother and father. Her Pop, as she calls her father takes her on night-time trips to bars and restaurants to share his love of music with her. Her mother is in art school. But her life becomes more chaotic as her father sinks deeper into addiction. After a traumatic event, her mother tries to get help for him, but is not successful. Missy's father becomes more and more unrecognizable as his addiction grows, until finally he is not safe to be involved in Missy's life. 

These Are Not the Words is targeted as a middle grade novel. While Pops' drug use is not described, the description of the effects on his family and himself are unflinching in their honesty. Readers who are used to their middle grade novels ending in a happy ever after ending will not find everything tied up nicely in the novel.
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These Are Not the Words
This is a review of These Are Not the Words by Amanda West Lewis. I received an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was initially put off by how coy and self-aware the style felt. I felt like the writer showed through the seams, yet I found the character of Miranda interesting and wanted to know more. While it wasn’t difficult to forge on into the story to see where it went, the style made it less immersive than I wanted. I’m not fond of first person present, but Lewis is consistent in maintaining Miranda’s voice, and as I read I cared enough about Miranda to keep reading in spite of that.
Miranda’s dad is an absence that is more present than if he’d just been around, and while I find this relatable, her awareness of this is markedly adult and clashes with her very childlike voice, which seems younger than twelve, even a boomer-childhood twelve.
At about the halfway point in the novel I felt like Lewis found her confidence and Miranda’s narrative became clearer, fuller somehow. It stopped feeling – for want of another fairer word – workshoppy and started to ring true to me. I went from thinking no, this doesn’t work to being in the story and caring very much about what happens to Miranda and her family.
The second half of the novel is pacey and feels both real and dreamlike at once. I wanted the unfolding of who Miranda grew into to last longer, and was so glad I kept reading after my initial frustration. This is a marvelous, intricate book that slips in and out of poetry in a way that fits the age of the narrator. I highly recommend this book, and praise in particular the realness of the time and place conjured here, and the wholeness of her story, as tight and clean as a shell. Miranda reminds me of Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Beth Ellen in Louise Fitzhugh’s underrated The Long Secret.
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Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book.

A YA novel, this one tackles addiction head on. I liked how it didn't dance around the subject, and how there was nothing easy about the decision to leave, or the subsequent events. Unfortunately, I think there will be a lot of readers who can relate all too well to this one.
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These Are Not the Words
by Amanda West Lewis
Pub Date 05 Apr 2022 
 House of Anansi Press Inc.,  Groundwood Books
 Children's Fiction  |  Middle Grade 



I am reviewing a copy of These Are Not the Words through Groundwoood Books and Netgalley:



It’s New York in the 1960’s, where we meet Missy, her Mother and Father, her Mother mother has gone back to school to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Missy’s father works in advertising and takes Missy on secret midnight excursions to Harlem and the Village so she can share his love of jazz. The two write poems for each other  poems that gradually become an exchange of apologies as Missy’s father’s alcohol and drug addiction begins to take over their lives.



After Missy’s Mother finally makes the decision that she and her daughter must make a fresh start, Missy has to leave her old apartment, her school, her best friend and her cats and become a latchkey kid while her mother gets a job. But she won’t give up on trying to save her family, even though this will involve a hard journey from innocence to action, and finally acceptance.



I give These Are Not the Words five out of five stars! 


Happy Reading!
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