Franco, Betsy. Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers. Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2008.
This book is a compilation of poems about love that were written by teenagers. These poems are raw and gritty and reveal how teenagers think about love.
I loved it. I can’t say it enough. This book is so raw and emotional. It shows us how teenagers view love and sex. This is extremely important, in my opinion. Parents don’t particularly like thinking of their children as young adults that have urges and needs. This book raises the awareness of their feelings and thoughts. I think it speaks to the need for sex education. Not teaching strictly abstinence, but how to have safe sex. The thing is, teens will do it. You may think they won’t but they probably will. There are people who wait, and power to them, but not all do. Not the majority do. In America, sex is somewhat of a taboo subject, especially around teens. This book shows us that there are teens who do think about sex, have sex, and that they love deeply and passionately. Teens can read this and feel validated in their feelings and thoughts, and parents can read this with a realization that their teens are probably thinking this. What really struck me were some of the ages. Twelve (my daughter’s age), and they’re already thinking about these things.
These teens are very talented. They are raw and emotional. They convey their feelings of love, lust, anger, desperation, longing, and so many other emotions. These poems are hard hitting and eye opening.
A poem called ” My Apologies” really struck out at me. This poem was written by fifteen year old Amy Collier. In this poem, she apologizes for her teasing. She goes into detail about what she wore, how she carried herself, and drew these boys in. It’s really honest. We hear a lot about boys being players. We hardly hear women acknowledge or embrace being teases. I thought it was interesting that this fifteen year old expressed this in her poem. (See Example Poem.)
The flow is really quick, but the content makes you want to pause and contemplate. For me, I thought of my teenage years and the two boyfriends I had during that period.
I love that there are different forms of poetry in this book. A vast majority of them are free verse, but we do have some traditional rhyme and I did read a set of couplets.
There is, as with most poetry, a lot of imagery and symbolism. They did a particularly good job with the imagery. Their descriptions and similes were wonderful.
There’s also a lot of types of love expressed. Some are gay, transgender, some involve infatuations with older people in their lives such as teachers, some are about forbidden love, just to name a few.
Altogether, this book was highly enjoyable and I recommend it for teens, parents, teachers, and anyone having to deal with teens.
To all the males
Whose hearts have been
By the spikes of my high heels
(Because it was on purpose
that I painted my toes Sonia’s
Sexier Than Red
and slid the S form of my foot
through lacy black pumps,
that I happen to
a pearl choker
onto my smooth neck,
and bound my anklets round the thin of my leg
to add an innocent undertone of
I was at fault for the
Silken blonde tresses
That fell upon my shoulders.
I enjoyed the confusion in your eyes
At my Monroe-meets-Hepburn dress
And if it were in me
I would have had
With all of you
But it’s not in me.
Like a van Gogh in a museum,
It’s look but don’t
Even if you want to
Feel the texture.
I never keep the promise
My portrait seems to give.
Because I’ve cackled at your glances
Like a vicious bitch.
All this in hoping
That one of you
May not give me a reason
To be amused,
That I might take advantage.
But until then,
Amy Collier, age 15
Everything is right about this. The lack of stanzas makes it feel as though it’s one rambling, which fits perfectly with the tone of the poem. The descriptions are wonderful. Her similes and metaphors are wonderful. This is such a mature poem for a fifteen year old. The writing and skill is mature and her poem expresses a message most adult women wouldn’t fess up to.