By: Will Walton
Review by: Ivy
“Being young is like
being a moth, or alive I
I am burning, if I am learning any-
thing these days, it is that
The flames you keep touching when you’re young,
you keep right ahead on touching when you’re older.”
When Avery writes a last-minute poem for the final assignment of the school year, his teacher sends him home with a stack of poetry anthologies for the summer. As tragedy and heartbreak strike his already fragile family, Avery turns to poetry to help make sense of the constantly changing world around him.
A coming-of-age and coping-with-grief tale told through the perspective of a pop-music loving queer 16-yr-old in a frustrating, beautiful, broken, and humble blend of poetry and prose. I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain is a masterpiece and one of the best things in YA right now.
I hesitate to call it a book because while I Felt a Funeral does have a story, reading it is an experience, an emotion, like ‘Today I Feel: Funeralbrain.’ It was unique, and unlike anything I’ve ever read. I Felt a Funeral is so powerful while still staying unsure of itself, charming while being relatable and difficult.
I love this book very, very much. I’ll admit, it seems kind of pretentious to like a prose book this much. To be honest, I bet I didn’t catch over half the metaphors and true meanings hidden in I Felt a Funeral’s pages. That said, the writing made me feel things, made me want to cry at something that on the outside doesn’t seem that sad, made me want to laugh at something deeply troubling.
Poetry is a disappearing genre that I really like. What a lot of the teens who complain that poetry is boring don’t realize is that 1st: Yeah, some of it is. But there are so many different kinds of poetry and prose, I can guarantee there is at least one poem out there that you’ll like, and 2nd: You don’t have to get all the metaphors. Overanalyzing poetry in class can make the style lose its nuance, but as long as the words make you feel something, it’s a good piece of work. Basically, my plea is: Come on teens, please read poetry.
This is a book about grief, about family, about being a kid, about being queer, and about loving words. I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain is a book about the full span of human emotions, and the way it chronicles these feelings is by making you feel them yourself. I don’t know the reason why words put together weirdly can cut you deeper than words put together regularly, but I stand by the thought that poetry and prose are better conveyors of emotional than regular writing. Will Walton has written an honest book that everyone should read, because if we can learn let ourselves go and cry or clap or laugh because a book made us want to, maybe we’d all feel better. Rating: Five/Five