Book Review | Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (2016)
by Vernitra Jones
Some books just get into your heart, and Garvey’s Choice is one of them.
This beautifully and brilliantly written contemporary novel tells the story of an adolescent boy named Garvey who is struggling to find his place. As an overweight introvert with a passion for books and space, Garvey exists far outside the circle of what is considered cool and suffers daily verbal assaults by his peers. Perhaps even more heartbreaking than the rejection from his classmates is the wide emotional distance that exists between him and his dad. In his father’s eyes, real men aspire to athletic greatness, but Garvey’s mind is in the stars and on the smooth Luther Vandross music that soothes his soul. He medicates his feelings with food and nourishes his heart with the honest, warm friendship he shares with his only friend, Joe.
Garvey narrates the story through a series of concise yet emotionally charged poems which reveal his tenderness as well as his evolving strength. Grimes’s poetic language pairs well with her ability to subtly move the story forward, and she skillfully blends moments of pain and joy.
I loved reading this book, and every aspect of Grimes’s writing, from the characterizations to the style to the story, left a major impression on me. After finishing the book, the story sat with me for days, and I am sure to reflect on my reading experience for a long time to come.
I recommend this book to readers of all ages. Although it is categorized as a middle-grade book, I think readers above the middle-grade level will also appreciate and enjoy the story. Also, since there isn’t a major focus on Garvey’s age or grade level, I think this is a great high-low book for high-schoolers, meaning it’s a high-interest but low-readability book, which is great for an older reader who doesn’t want to be intimidated by the text. I would also recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt the pain of not fitting in or anyone who wants to understand that pain. I would also recommend this book to fans of Luther Vandross, who happens to be one of my favorite singers of all time. When you read the book, you’ll understand how he factors into the story!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars