by Corey Ann Haydu
(Simon & Schuster; $18.99, Ages 14 and up)
*A Junior Library Guild Selection
★ Starred Reviews – Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly
In Corey Ann Haydu’s YA novel in verse, Lawless Spaces, Mimi receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday—a century-old family tradition for the women in her family. Mimi asks what she’s supposed to write:
“There are things you don’t want to say,” Mom says, opening the car door,
getting in. “So you write them down and put them in an attic
and then they can
exist and not exist,
they can be true and not true.”
Mimi carefully curates her popular online presence where she makes clothes “that people will notice before they notice” her body or, worse yet, comment on it. She keeps real-life friendships distant. Her close ties with her mother slipped away once Mom’s boyfriend moved in; Mom no longer turns to Mimi for advice, and excludes her from major news. To help process her burgeoning feelings, Mimi begins writing poetry in her journal.
Complicated relationships dominate this story including the power and burden of family. I appreciate the juxtaposition of today’s instant-news world versus the slower layers of older, hidden truths. The spare, poetic format serves the story beautifully. Multiple timeline chapters alternate between “Mimi, 2022,” and the lives of her maternal ancestors, revealing connections and secrets.
The author cautions that material involving sexual trauma, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and generational trauma are included. RAINN.org (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization) is listed as a place to seek support.
Per the author: “I wrote about a lot of things personal to me — the experience of being my particular size and shape in the world, what it was to be an actress in an industry obsessed with telling you who you are and whether or not that’s okay.”
- Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt (ChristineVanZandt.com), Write for Success
(www.WriteforSuccessEditing.com), @ChristineVZ and @WFSediting,