Different from everything I’ve ever had here. Not just a novel, not just poetry, is both and neither at the same time. Definitely worth the reading.
I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner releases today in the Coming of Age, Young Adult genre.
Set in the 1960s, Barbara Bottner’s I Am Here Now is a beautiful novel in verse about one artist’s coming of age. It’s a heartbreaking, powerful and inspiring depiction of what it’s like to shatter your life—and piece it all back together.
You can’t trust Life to give you decent parents, or beautiful eyes, a fine French accent or an outstanding flair for fashion. No, Life does what it wants. It’s sneaky as a thief.
Maisie’s first day of High school should be exciting, but all she wants is to escape.
Her world is lonely and chaotic, with an abusive mother and a father who’s rarely there to help.
So when Maisie, who finds refuge in her art, meets the spirited Rachel and her mother, a painter, she catches a glimpse of a very different world—one full of life, creativity, and love—and latches on.
But as she discovers her strengths through Rachel’s family, Maisie, increasingly desperate, finds herself risking new friendships, and the very future she’s searching for.
BANG, BANG, BANG
In his bedroom, Davy, awake again,
knocks his head against his wall.
I have to admit, he’s too distraught
for someone who still doesn’t have
one single hair growing out
of his baby face.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
He’s a human metronome.
Once, he said, “I do it to escape the chaos
of this place.”
“I escape by drawing.
Why don’t you just play some Gershwin?”
He didn’t bother to answer.
Judith made him pick out his carpet.
I remember how insistent she was
that he choose it for himself.
As if that could make him feel
that he belongs in a family of people
who have brown eyes, brown hair
in common, but mainly are falling apart.
Not falling, no. Ripping.
can you exchange one sort of hurt
Mother marches into his room,
says: “Stop this!
It can’t be good for you, David!
I worry about you.”
She never speaks in a soft, concerned voice,
Why are you doing this, honey?
What’s the matter?
Davy has an entire repertoire
for this habit.
He quits just long enough
for her to leave.
Then bang. Bang. Bang, again.
It stops. I can’t make out anything else.
Did she go back in?
Is she hugging him?
Straightening out his blankets?
Her few moments of maternal instinct
for the entire week are spent now.
And as soon as she leaves again,
thump, thump, thump:
a perfect rhythm.
I can forget about it for a little while,
but then I can’t doze off;
he’s not a boy,
he’s a machine.
I tap the wall between us.
“Davy, stop it!”
He misses a thump.
“Thank you! Go to sleep!”
But he begins again.
“That’s bad for you, Davy!”
I hear those words as if I didn’t say them.
It is bad for him, really bad.
I get up, trot to his door, knock softly.
“Davy, please listen to your sister.”
Saying “sister” somehow makes me
well up with tears.
And then I’m begging:
“Hey, Davy, open the door!”
It does open, slowly.
I notice his glassy eyes,
as if he’s in a trance.
He goes back to bed.
He lets me take his warm, toasty hand.
It hits me;
Davy’s hurting and fragile.
I wait while his eyes drift close.
I hear his soft breathing.
I can’t believe
I never thought about this;
my brother is another me.
AUTHOR BIO:Barbara Bottner has written about 50 books for children of all ages. In May, her first YA novel in free verse, I Am Here Now is coming out from Macmillan (Imprint) She’s written a NY Times Bestseller, as well as staffed prime time sit-com, sold screenplays, published essays and short stories in both national and literary magazines and reviewed children’s books for both the NY and LA Sunday Book Review. Many of her works have been multiply translated and animated, and adapted for short plays. When she was an animator, she won “Best Film For TV” from the Annecy International Animation Festival. When very young, she briefly appeared on stage and in Europe with La Mama Plexus and in television movies. She teaches writing for children privately but won The Distinguished University Teaching Award from The New School For Social Research. Her papers are collected in the Arne Nixon Center for Children’s Literature at Fresno State.
Former students include: Lane Smith, Robin Preiss Glaser, Peggy Rathmann, Bruce Degen, Barney Saltsburg and Antoinette Portis.
She feels blessed to have a passion that seems to stick with her no matter how the larger world goes out of control.
GIVEAWAYBlitz-wide giveaway (US only)
- Print copy of I Am Here Now