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Every Body Looking: 09/30/21
Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh is a novel in verse about a college freshman trying to deal with trauma while learning how to live on her own. Ada is the daughter of a Nigerian father and a Black American mother. Her parents are divorced and she has mostly lived with her father but now she's off to college.
The poems are gathered together in chapters by points in Ada's life. There's her graduation, and flashbacks to first, second, and sixth grades. These are counterpointed against her present day time in college as she's trying to be the adult and the student everyone expects her to be.
In the flashbacks she reveals the trauma of her childhood — sexual abuse by a cousin, her parents' separation and her mother's addiction. In the present, she has classes she doesn't feel comfortable in, a boyfriend who is clearly abusing her, and an escape through dance.
Ada's story is poignant. It's emotional and raw. But the pacing puts eighty percent of the novel's focus on the trauma and only a smidgen of time on her exploration of dance. I wish there was more time spent with the dance lessons and with falling in love with the girl who introduces her to it.