Synopses & Reviews
Read Thalia Chaltas's posts on the Penguin Blog.
Anke’s father is abusive. But not to her. He attacks her brother and sister, but she’s just an invisible witness in a house of horrors, on the brink of disappearing altogether. Until she makes the volleyball team at school. At first just being exhausted after practice feels good, but as Anke becomes part of the team, her confidence builds. When she learns to yell “Mine!” to call a ball, she finds a voice she didn’t know existed. For the first time, Anke is seen and heard. Soon, she’s imagining a day that her voice will be loud enough to rescue everyone at home—including herself.
"Chaltas's novel of poems marks an intensely powerful debut. Anke and her older siblings, Darren and Yaicha, may appear typical teenagers in public, but their home life is dominated by their father. Though he is verbally, physically and sexually abusive to her brother and sister, Anke seems beyond his notice ('with a sick/ acidic/ burbling/ bile/ i want what they have/ as horrible/ curdling/ vile/ as it is/ darren and yaicha/ get more/ than/ me'). The distance between the family members separated by their silence is palpable, as is Anke's growing sense of strength, partly due to her participation in volleyball at school ('My lungs are claiming expanding territory./ This is my voice./ This is MY BALL'). Though the pace is quick, tension builds slowly, almost agonizingly, as acts of abuse collect (a large bruise glimpsed on Darren's torso, muffled sounds from Yaicha's room that can't be tuned out). Readers will recognize the inevitability of an explosive confrontation, but the particulars will still shock. Incendiary, devastating, yet in total offering empowerment and hope, Chaltas's poems leave an indelible mark. Ages 12 up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This unflinching debut novel told in verse is about a girl, her family, and the devastating power of silence in an abusive house of horrors.
Ankes father is abusive to her brother and sister. But not to her. Because, to him, she is like furniture not even worthy of the worst kind of attention. Then Anke makes the school volleyball team. She loves feeling her muscles after workouts, an ache that reminds her she is real. Even more, Anke loves the confidence that she gets from the sport. And as she learns to call for the ball on the court, she finds a voice she never knew she had. For the first time, Anke is making herself seen and heard, working toward the day she will be able to speak up loud enough to rescue everyone at home including herself.
About the Author
As a teenager Thalia Chaltas wanted to do everything, and she envied people who knew without question what their life goal was. Thalia did preliminary training to be a kinesiologist, a helicopter pilot, and a fire fighter, and has at times been a bus driver, a ropes course instructor, and a contralto in an a capella group. Along the way she has played lots of volleyball, written poetry, and collected children’s books. And eventually, that anvil fell from the sky and she realized writing was what all this previous intensive training was for.
She has kept every poem she has ever written – except one. Because she can’t find it.
Thalia lives in California with her daughter. Because I Am Furniture is her first novel.