Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

by Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes’s poetry memoir of her childhood and teenage years recounts the... read more

Nikki Grimes’s poetry memoir of her childhood and teenage years recounts the chronic instability of her life while tracing the development of her love of writing. As a child, Grimes entered the foster care system because her mother, who had schizophrenia, could not care for her. Already traumatized by neglect, she was devastated to be separated from her older sister. After a rough start, she found happiness and belonging with her foster family, only to be retrieved a few years later by her mother. As her teen years began, her stepfather began to sexually assault her, and her mother continued to experience schizophrenic episodes. Although her father reappeared in her life as a force of good, offering her support and a place to live and exposure to the richness of Black cultural life, Grimes learned to rely on herself with help from her older sister and an English teacher who pushed her to be the best writer she could be. Throughout these years, Grimes took great comfort in reading and writing, carrying a beloved notebook everywhere and using her journal and poetry as a coping mechanism and a way to work through the chaos of her family life. This poems in this powerful memoir reveal the author’s incredible fortitude and perseverance in the face of extreme circumstances. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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