Saturday, February 21, 2009

Poetry Book Review: Verse Novel


Nikki Grimes has managed to reconcile stories of loss from two very different worlds and times, in this verse novel for young adults. This loss is timeless and the raw emotion which it invokes transcends all the man made barriers that we construct. The title "Dark Sons" refers to the two main characters of the novel. One son is the biblical Ishmael, son of Abraham who is usurped in his father’s love by his half bother Isaac. The other character is Sam whose father leaves them for a younger woman, and starts a new family.

Both stories evoke abandonment and loss. The anguish that both young men encounter is universal. The journeys of the two are paralleled and their growth is beautifully connected by the author.

Here is Sam’s epilogue:

Sam: Dark Sons

I never really noticed

him before,

guzzling miracle water

in the pages

of that first book.

Then one morning,

my daily devotions

took me to Genesis.

I scanned the story of Abraham,

and heard a voice

deep inside of me.

Slow down, it said.

Take a closer look.

And there he was-Ishmael,

someone a lot like me.

A guy whose father

ripped his heart out too.

Me and you, Ishmael,

we’re brothers,

two dark sons,

the spawn of

kick-butt mother,

adopted sons of a Father

who hears.

It’s all good.

You made it

in the end

and so will I.

Grimes, Nikki. 2005. “Sam: Dark Sons.” p. 215. Dark Sons. New York, NY: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children.

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