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Review: Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Title: Because I am Furniture
Author: Thalia Chaltas
Year Published: 2009

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 352
Rating: 5 out of 5

Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): USA (east coast?)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Anke's father is abusive. But not to her. He attacks her brother and sister, but she is ignored, forced to be an invisible witness in a house of horrors. Believing she isn't worthy of even the worst kind of attention., Anke feels about has significant as the living room sofa. Until she makes the volleyball team at school. In a sport where you have to yell "Mine!" to play the ball, Anke learns for the first time how to make herself heard. As her confidence on the court builds, she finds a voice she didn't know existed. And it's not long before she realizes the if she can make people  hear her while she's playing volleyball, then maybe she can be heard at home, too.

Review: I have been meaning to read this book for so long since the author lives in my town. However, it is written in verse so I put it off for a while. What a mistake, I should have read this book as soon as I heard about it!

Anke is like a number of women I knew when I was growing up: in an abusive family, but not the one being abused. What is her role? She cannot protect her siblings, she cannot speak out (they tell her not to or "he will kill us"), she feels unloved because she doesn't get hurt (strange, but accurate), and her relationship with others suffers.

As the summary says, Anke finally finds her voice through participating in a school sports team. One cannot underestimate the power of a group activity; the participants have a sense of belonging, of power, of safety, and they can be what they cannot be at home. Anke definitely has this when she plays well, makes friends with the girls on her team, and when she finds her voice.

Chaltas does a fantastic job at showing what it is like to live in an abusive household. The family walks around on eggshells, pretends the awful isn't happening, and waits for the next round to begin, wondering what will trigger it. The book ran me through a myriad of emotions: anger at the father; sadness for the mother; fear for the children; and hope for their future.

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