Sunday, April 19, 2009
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
Anke’s father is abusive. But not to her. He attacks her brother and sister, but she’s just an invisible witness in a house of horrors, on the brink of disappearing altogether. Until she makes the volleyball team at school. At first just being exhausted after practice feels good, but as Anke becomes part of the team, her confidence builds. When she learns to yell “Mine!” to call a ball, she finds a voice she didn’t know existed. For the first time, Anke is seen and heard. Soon, she’s imagining a day that her voice will be loud enough to rescue everyone at home—including herself.
Wow, what a debut novel! Written in the poetry style familiar to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Chaltas' first book takes a look at the life of a girl living in an abusive household. It's a powerful novel about a family torn apart by a father's rage.
I picked this up at work yesterday, because I wanted something to read on my break and I immediately was swept into Anke's world. I ended up bringing the book home and finishing it last night. It read so quickly, but I felt at times that I needed to slow down to catch all of the magic and beauty of Chaltas' words. She really is a talented new voice in YA literature.
The subject matter of this book makes it hard to read, but at the same time hard to put down, because it is so brutally honest. You can't help but feel for Anke as she struggles with watching her father abuse her siblings, while also wondering why he ignores her. She should be happy to be the ignored one, but it makes her feel invisible and alone.
One of my favorite things about this book was watching Anke change and grow, and gain more confidence, through her enjoyment of volleyball and her love of the team. I think she captures that feeling of belonging wonderfully.
This really is a wonderful and powerful book and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially to fans of Hopkin's work. To be able to take a difficult subject and turn it into a beautiful and moving piece of literature is truly a gift.