Chaltas, Thalia. Displacement. 364 p. Viking Childrens Books. 2011. Hardcover $16.99. ISBN 9780670011995.
Novels in verse aren't always my cup of tea. In fact, to be completely honest, more often than not, I'll pass them by. A lot of the time
I just don't understand
The prose needs to be
On different lines
...oooh, actually, now that I did that? It was kind of fun!
Anyway, novels in verse may not exactly be my thing, but at the same time, I don't harbor an automatic prejudice against them. I can be swayed by one that's well done, and I found myself really getting into Displacement. It's a quick yet thought-provoking read about a girl who's grieving the loss of her younger sister. She decides to get away from her life and her family for a while by escaping to an isolated town in the desert.
Chaltas uses evocative language to set the scene and illuminate the main character's struggle with grief and her journey to healing. Chaltas' writing works especially well to bring the setting to life-- the desert is a strong presence in the book, almost a character in itself. Word choices are deliberate and powerful, and the reader can really sense why this author writes in poetry rather than prose.
Sometimes, too, Chaltas' language is rather... shall I say blunt? Like, you know how in some books and TV shows, characters never have to go to the bathroom? Well, um, this book doesn't have that issue. Your mileage may vary as to whether that's a positive or a negative!
I think this book will have an appreciative audience in teens because of its themes of self-discovery and healing, so I'll be buying it for my library's collection.
Displacement was published earlier this month; ARC for review snagged at ALA Midwinter.