“this writing thing/was some kind of magic trick/I didn’t yet understand, except for this:/Magicians rarely share/their secrets.”Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes
Growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a mostly absent father, Nikki Grimes found herself terrorized by babysitters, shunted from foster family to foster family, and preyed upon by those she trusted. At the age of six, she poured her pain onto a piece of paper late one night—and discovered the magic and impact of writing. For many years, Nikki’s notebooks were her most enduing companions. In this memoir, Nikki shows how the power of those words helped her conquer the hazards—ordinary and extraordinary—of her life.
Nikki Grimes, Memoir, Growing up, Inspiration, Non-ficiton, Truth, Poetry, Life
Why This Rating?
I honestly didn’t know too much about the author Nikki Grimes before starting this memoir. I knew that she was a well-known children’s author and publishes her poems and other shorter writings in a number of books and independent pieces. But this narrative gave me such a deeper look into her life. One that took and takes a lot of self-reflection and confidence to publish into the world. And now that publication is open to both compliments and criticism from everyone who picks up the book. I think that alone is always a huge thing to accomplish for any author. Despite the huge kudos I give to Grimes for putting her life even more out into the public, there are other things about this book that give it this rating.
The choice on how to write this memoir makes it very memorable in my opinion. Most memoir or biographies tend to stick to the storytelling method. This gives the play-by-play of the figure’s life. It is full of the facts that happened withe very little to be left in the dark because of the depiction the book has written. Grimes wrote her whole memoir in verse. I have honestly never come across another memoir written in this style. I was enthralled! It brought out my inner love of prose. Then the fact she changed the structures depending on what the topic per poem was made it flow and fit so perfectly. She is very talented author to be able to construct this entire book in the same style.
While talking about her poems, the way she chose to tell her story was so perfect too. As you progress through the book you are growing up with this beautiful individual that has been dealt quite a rough life. Each poem is a snapshot into a memory that has been seared into Grimes’ mind. For good or for poor, the moments replay in these lines for everyone to experience. Grimes grew up with so much against her. She knew only an absent father and an alcoholic mother early on which landed her in to the foster system for many years. Then living and surviving through abusive situations during her whole young life. It was a miracle that she eventually found the release in writing she desperately needed. I learned these facts and so much more from this book. It is truly an inspirational story to read! She is a strong, courageous woman who has faced a lot of shit in her life and knows just how important it is to take a hold of the life you want and to not let others destroy that goal.
One thing I would highly suggest if you get a chance to read this book, have the audiobook read you the story. It doesn’t matter whether you listen while you read it or just listen to it. (Granted if you just read it that is find too! Not faulting you if you decide to go this way with it.) Nikki Grimes is the one who is actually doing the reading for a majority of the audio pieces out there. With her reading her own story, you not only get to hear exactly the way the author intended the prose to be read, but you get to hear HER read it. You get to experience her emotion while reading it. You hear the extra breathing she has to make during some of the tougher memories. There are moments you can hear the smile in her voice towards a pleasant flashback she is reliving. It truly becomes a different form of art that is far deeper than just a book and just a memoir. Again, if you don’t have the opportunity to do so or just don’t like listening to audiobooks, that is totally okay! You still get so much from this story. This is a story that is still just as powerful and eye-opening no matter how you read it.
This was such a good book! I think others would really enjoy the truth and story Nikki has to say about her life. Just a heads up, there are moments of abuse present in multiple forms and neglect stated within this memoir. These are true moments that author lived through and considering it is her life story, it only makes sense that what she lived through would show up. There are so many captivating moments and so much inspiring strength from Grimes found throughout her life. It is no surprise to see how such a talented, resilient young woman became the author the world knows about today. But you’d have to read it to find out how it all came to be!
Time to get lost in the next story!