Ordinary Hazards
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For Ages 12 +

A Michael L. Printz Honor Book * A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

Six Starred Reviews — ★Booklist ★BCCB ★The Horn Book ★Publishers Weekly ★School Library Connection ★Shelf Awareness

A Booklist Best Book for Youth * A BCCB Blue Ribbon * A Horn Book Fanfare Book * A Shelf Awareness Best Children’s Book * Recommended on NPR’s “Morning Edition” by Kwame Alexander

“This powerful story, told with the music of poetry and the blade of truth, will help your heart grow.”
—Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak and Shout
“[A] testimony and a triumph.”
—Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down

In her own voice, acclaimed author and poet Nikki Grimes explores the truth of a harrowing childhood in a compelling and moving memoir in verse.

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 enduring companions. In this accessible and inspiring memoir that will resonate with young readers and adults alike, Nikki shows how the power of those words helped her conquer the hazards – ordinary and extraordinary – of her life.


Download the Ordinary Hazards discussion guide here.

Praise for Ordinary Hazards

★ With Ordinary Hazards, Grimes delivers a memoir in the form of a powerful and inspiring collection of poems. She details her early life through adulthood, and she unabashedly explores the highs as well as the lows. Young adults will identify with and connect to the many challenges explored in Grimes’ work, which delves into issues of love, family, responsibility, belonging, finding your place in the world, and fighting the monsters you know—and the ones you don’t. The memoir has heartbreaking moments—even soul-crushing ones—that will make readers ache for young Grimes and teens grappling with similar circumstances. But inspiring moments bolster her raw, resonant story, showing that there is always light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.

—Booklist, starred review

★ Grimes presents a gripping memoir in verse constructed from imperfect recollections of the hardship and abuse she endured as a child. Underlining the idea that ‘a memoir’s focus is on truth, not fact,’ Grimes courageously invites readers to join her on a journey through the shadows of her past…

—Publishers Weekly, starred review

For award-winning children’s and YA author Grimes, writing, faith, and determination were the keys to surviving her tumultuous childhood. Grimes recounts her story as a memoir in verse, writing with a poet’s lyricism through the lens of memory fractured by trauma. Fans of her poetry and prose will appreciate this intimate look at the forces that shaped her as an artist and as a person determined to find the light in the darkest of circumstances. A raw, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story of trauma, loss, and the healing power of words.

—Kirkus Reviews
  • Price: $19.99
  • Interest Level: 12 +
  • Trim Size: 6" x 9"
  • Pages: 336
  • ISBN-10: 1629798819
  • ISBN-13: 9781629798813

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