Protagonist Macy Cashmere MYOFB (how she writes her last name in her dictionary entries) is legitimately disturbed. Her mom is a selfish pothead with a series of "guests," her dad is in prison, and her brother has been claimed by child protective services. She's got two friends, George who also performs disturbedness, and the other, Alma, who is an achiever, taking care of half a dozen siblings and slamming the AP track in high school.
I haven't read as raw and street poetic a book as this in a long while. It might be my favorite YA of the year, even edging out The Hate U Give.
Macy grabs me right away, with this dedication:
She is living a life where parents don't care for her, and the system has let her down, but she is still say "I'm worthwhile. I'm looking out for me."
She may not be thriving in school, but she's clearly a critical thinker.
I reach into my desk. Take out History of the American People Volume 1 and clean house. Cross out all the pages about shit that's got nothing to do with me. What's left? Not much.
When confronted about her edits, she responds
"Vandalism? I'm not vandalizing any more than you. I'm just deciding which words count and which ones don't. Which words mean something and which don't. That's exactly what you do."
Soon after, she throws her desk. I moved mine into the closet when I was in school. I like Macy's method better.
Chapters are entries in Macy's dictionary. The entry for Apple begins with a definition
Noun. A apple a day keeps the doctor away. So does not having no insurance to pay him with.
Writing during lunch she goes on
If Adam offered Eve the apples from my cafeteria, she'd a been like yeah, no, thems nasty.
I just think that's so funny and real, but it's worrisome that Macy is always hungry and eats crumbs from the couch, and when her mom does bring home food it's junk like McDonald's and Doritos.
Macy is often painfully profound, like how she ends the chapter call Am with "Alma knows who I be. It's more than who I am." Or this head scratcher, "I can't even imagine tomorrow. Tomorrow is for people like Alma. I'm still somewhere between today and yesterday."
The entry for Disturbed is introduced like this
Adjective. Someone. Me.
Fuck you for sitting there. Fuck anyone for sitting anywhere. Fuck you for reading this. Don't you have better things to do?
That's real to me. It's how I felt for much of my depressed childhood as I hid myself in reading and inventing my own worlds.
I bookmarked another dozen passages, but I'll leave them for you to discover. You will love NoNieqa Ramos's writing. Her bio says she "spent her childhood on the Bronx, where she started her own publishing company and sold books for twenty-five cents until the nuns shut her down." I'm glad the nuns lost their grip on her!