Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
Published March 18th 2010 by Penguin
More at: Goodreads
His Anger stands alone
middle of the room.
We step gently around it,
a terrifying totem pole
bristling beaks, pinions, talons.
I can't remember
when it started
when firm hand
more important than
the rest of us,
it didn't used to be this way
keeps us tied to him,
while stepping around his Anger
middle of the room.
Anke's father loves her brother and sister, but not her. He must love them. He loves Darren enough to get angry and hit him. He loves Yaicha enough to visit her room at night but he never even notices Anke. She remembers a father who would laugh and read bedtime stories, who smiled at her when he came home. But he doesn't even see her now. Nor does her mother, who doesn't see Darren's bruises and doesn't hear the whimpers coming from Yaicha's room. She only sees him.
To her parents, Anke is furniture, simply part of the scenery, something used and dismissed without a thought. So Anke loses herself in volleyball, something she excels at, something that makes her seen. With her new found talent and self confidence, she emerges a pretty young lady, one the boys can't help but look at. Anke likes being seen, being visible, until her new image turns another head- her father's.
Reading back over that, not knowing the story as I do now, I would be terrified to read it. But I only know this now, and the possibility of the fear her story could instill in the reader must have been foremost in the author's mind because she artfully and meticulously protects both her character's and her audience's emotions. You want your reader to experience the fear and sadness the character is living, through the character. You do not, however want to terrify and sadden your reader. A very fine line and I'm grateful for the restraint shown by the author. She could have made this one sting long after the story was over. Instead, using, verse both soulful and lyric, the reader is able to push through some very harsh, vivid imagery, carefully muted by poetry.
Anke is such a strong, brave girl. Even confused as she is by what she considers to be her father's "expressions" of love, she understands enough to know that while she wants the love of father, she doesn't want her father's idea of love. Her mother, though she redeemed herself in the end, disgusted me. I was reminded of Meredith's mother in Such A Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss, a character I would like to naively believe couldn't possibly exist in real life. I know better- I know she's out there.
This is another of Penguin's remarkable Point of View books, a genre of YA that deals with the harsh realities that you don't want to think about and without the voice of some AMAZING authors, you wouldn't be able to stand reading. It includes some greats such as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, If I Stay by Gayle Forman and several others that all need to be read. I'd very much like to see them taught in classrooms and I know that they have entered a few.
Visit Thalia Chaltas at her website
Learn more about Point of View books from Penguin.
Other POV books I've read:
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Looking for Alaska by John Green