Home is supposed to be a place you belong. It's supposed to be parents who are there and siblings who bug you and a life that feels comfortable. It's not supposed to be an absentee mother or a drowned sister. But that's Vera's reality, and she can't stand it anymore. So she runs. She ends up in an old mining town in the middle of the California desert. It's hot, it's dusty, and it's as isolated as Vera feels. As she goes about setting up her life, she also unwittingly starts the process of healing and-eventually- figuring out what home might really mean for her.
Thalia Chaltas (Author, Because I Am Furniture, Viking, 2009) worked hard at her luck to get her Young Adult novel Because I Am Furniture published by Viking. She has been writing for children since just before the turn of the century. The current century. Running her medical transcription business has taught her the value of editing, since most physicians don’t sound brilliant without a transcriptionist. Raising five-year-old daughter Kaeva has taught Thalia the hard work of love, and she feels lucky to have that job as her first priority. She currently has her butt in the chair, working on another novel for Viking.
As a teenager Thalia Chaltas wanted to do everything, and she envied people who knew without question what their life goal was. Thalia did preliminary training to be a kinesiologist, a helicopter pilot, and a fire fighter, and has at times been a bus driver, a ropes course instructor, and a contralto in an a capella group. Along the way she has played lots of volleyball, written poetry, and collected children’s books. And eventually, that anvil fell from the sky and she realized writing was what all this previous intensive training was for.
She has kept every poem she has ever written – except one. Because she can’t find it.
Thalia lives in California with her daughter. BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE is her first novel.
Where do I write?
First, I will tell you where I usually do not write. At home! Why? Because most of my life is there! Laundry in a pile. A new blackberry ice cream to create. Dust bunnies to pet. Very distracting.
Tragedy spurs Vera to leave everything she knows for small-town desert living. But is she living--or running?
I don't typically read books written in verse so I'm no expert, but I loved the way no word was wasted, no cliches regurgitated. DISPLACEMENT is beautifully written, fully developed, thought provoking and satisfying to the very end.
A novel written in prose can be a hard feat to pull off. I have to admit, I'm always wary about reading one -- it's so easy for the novel to be more about making a statement and less about actual substance. Also, I'm incredibly picky when it comes to poetry, I've been to one too many bad open night mikes!
Displacement was a quick read, in part because of the prose style. But I also found myself drawn into the world of Vera, independent enough to uproot herself from her home, travel to a random town (well, more an outpost, really) full of other misfits and colorful characters, and immediately find a home and a part-time job. Vera is grieving for her sister, whom she starts 'seeing' . But Vera is also very much a teenage girl -- she complains about the only diner's bad food, crushes on her new boss, and angsts about her clothes.
The other characters were a little less well-drawn. I liked her non-crush boss, a middle-aged man who threw pots for a living and was dealing with his own traumatic events. Her crush, a handsome Native American young man named Len, was much less likable. He breaks into her home not once, but twice, accuses her of stealing, and then has an encounter with the potter that showcases an ugly streak of homophobia. Vera never seems upset enough with him. She even goes back to work for him after the first time he breaks into her home (and steals all of her cash!). I just didn't understand that!
Overall, I liked Displacement. Vera's voice is very strong, and the novel ends in a way that is hopeful without being saccharin. I also felt the prose writing lent itself very well in this circumstance.
When I talk to student about making connections, I made lots of them in this book. Vera buys a drawer full of post cards and uses them to mark points in her search for herself. When I was younger I had a collection of post cards, not that I bought at once but when I went places. I did not write on them about what I did, but looked on them after I returned and thought of all the possible things I could have done. The funny thing is, upon reflection, is that many of the possibilities were romanticized and the reality of those trips is definitely my own. On my first trip to Europe, my second day in London, I was accused by a crazy man of being a spy. Young and naive, I saw his influence in Paris too. I did not want this to be the reality of my trip, although it's much more interesting to me now. It is not the trip most people have when they travel. Each time Vera looked at a post card, I was reminded of events in my past. Perhaps that's the point of post cards. The use of desert as a character impressed me. Nothing can be hidden in the desert; it's too stark or prickly or dry or unpredictable. I'm not sure students who read this book will have the same experience with it that I had. Maybe it's a good starting place for everyone. Just as an aside, I remember getting out of my car at Owens Valley and everything was silence. I wanted to cut loose with a scream but didn't dare, what happens if a girl screams in the silence and there's no one around to hear? This book is a good read for students who enjoy novels in verse. I have one student in mind already.
Good story, also a quick read since it is written in blank verse. I found the poem format let all the important details through and allowed the reader (me) to better focus on the story without being weighed down with lengthy descriptions. This was also a nice contemporary follow up to the last book I read, Survival; I wasn't in the mood to read anything too upbeat and happy. Not that I'm saying there isn't a happy ending; I would call it an everything works out, good ending. Definitely check this out if you like contemporary, growing as a person stories.
I really liked this book. I've sat here trying to figure out what about this book made me enjoy it so much, and I can't exactly put my finger on it. There's nothing particularly exciting or adventurous or fast-paced about this book. There's nothing that brought me to tears. There's no shocking turn of events. And, to be honest, the premise of the story - absentee mom, dead sister, running away from home - isn't terribly unique. But, after much thought, I think it was two things that did it for me. One is the characters. With the exception of one (), I LOVED the characters. They were real and solid and supportive. The second thing was the mood. Even though the desert environment is a harsh one, this book didn't come across as harsh. Everything (to me) felt warm and comforting and soothing. I'm not sure why. I mean, the setting *is* the harsh, gritty, melt-your-face-off-hot desert. But... I don't know. I felt comforted. So, reading this as an uncertain school year starts in the middle of a global pandemic as the country protests, finding a book that felt soothing, filled with characters that are (mostly) loving and supportive was quite welcome. But beyond all that, this IS a good story with a good message.
Very quick read, it is a poetry book after all, which can be read typically pretty fast. Not a groundbreaking book, nor is there continual great poetry. There were a few lines that were semi clever but overall it didn’t really feel like a poetry novel to me. I did find it cute and loved the setting. It did keep me interested and had a since of finality by the end even though not all questions were answered. (Kind of like life) I wouldn’t say it’s a must read but it’s certainly not necessarily a waste of time. A good buffer between bigger reads and overall an average feel good novel.
Displacement was a great read!! The main character, Vera, is quirky and authentic. The story held so many great passages. I didn't want it to be over!! Excellent descriptions and excellent characters. A must-read.
I loved this book! Such a smart clean well paced story done in verse. To be honest I was hesitant about verse in a modern book but it worked. I just want to say I think it is very relatable especially for me
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Vera needs to escape the chaos at home. Her younger sister disappeared and is presumed drowned. Her mother spends more time in foreign countries than with her children, and her older sister is focused on her own life without enough left over for anyone else. Vera's love of geology leads her to the desert where she hopes to occupy her time with rocks and not the memories that haunt every moment.
When she arrives in the tiny town of Garrett, she is welcomed by a conglomeration of interesting people. There is Tilly whose lisp makes every conversation a challenge. Lon is half Indian, breathtakingly handsome, and he runs a questionable business shipping Indian artifacts. Vera quickly connects with Milo, an artist whose pottery making skills are incredible. Life in Garrett is slow-paced, and Vera falls into life there easily.
As the summer passes, Vera works for Lon keeping records and eventually earning his confidence to help pack artifacts for shipping. When memories and imagined glimpses of her dead sister threaten to overwhelm her, she heads into the desert to calm her nerves. No one questions her reasons for being there, but sometimes Vera wishes someone would.
When Vera discovers someone has been inside the house she is temporarily calling home, she sets about trying to solve the mystery. When she finds the answers, she is shaken and begins doubting whether this is the place she belongs. Will time help heal the painful past? When will she be ready to go back to her previous life and pick up the pieces?
Author Thalia Chaltas explores the world of love and loss and what it takes to pull a life back together. DISPLACEMENT is written in verse and beautifully tells Vera's story as she attempts to rebuild her life. Chaltas is also the author of another novel in verse, BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE.
Vera has run away from everything. She has decided to go where nobody knows her and what she has been through. Her younger sister Amy was declared dead after she went on a night swim with a bunch of kids from the wrong crowd. Vera had talked to her older sister, Roley, about getting Amy away from the bad kids, but Roley said to lighten up about it. So after Amy's death Vera needed to get away from everyone and everything. It didn't help that her two best friends who had made summer plans with her decided to start dating and went to Europe without her, but dealing with Amy's death is something that Vera dosen't know how to do. When she gets to Garret, an old mining town, she decides that is where she need to be. Her love of rocks drew her to Garret, even if there is no work with rocks happening there. Vera ends up working for two people in town, Milo who makes pottery can only offer her work once a week, but Lon the cute half Hopi Indian guy who is about her age offers her a job doing accounting for his repackaging business. With something going amiss with the repackaging and seeing Amy everywhere she turns Vera has her hands full.
This really could have used more character development. I don't feel like I know who Vera really is. Yes, I understand that her younger sister never came back from a night swim and she blames herself and her older sister for not stopping her from hanging out with the wrong crowd, but the whole her friends started dating and went off on vacation together after graduation felt tacked on. It was kind of as if the author tossed that in there to make it more dramatic and really it kind of ruined the story for me. Told in verse I do think it is a good story about dealing with loss.
Having read Chalta's first book, Because I Am Furniture, I was a little worried this would be another heavy-subject story, beautifully written but upsetting. While Displacement does tackle the heavy subject of losing ones sibling it was not as emotionally upsetting as I was expecting.
How often do you meet a main character who's a seventeen year old girl, studying geology, who runs away from home to the desert because she's excited about the geological possibilities? Vera was such a refreshing MC, super smart, honest, hot-headed at times but usually for good cause.
Along with the dessert setting came some very unique characters; Milo, Pearl, Dempsey, and Tilly. Only one of them was a main-ish character so while the others weren't fully developed, they played their role of odd small town characters. The way Tilly talked was SUPER annoying, here's a short example of what I mean.
"Thet down, hawney. I'll gitchyou thome tea."
"What kind of job you think we got in thith plate?"
I really can't tolerate slang, dialect, and accents in books. I just can't, but luckily Tilly doesn't appear often.
Overall, this was refreshingly unique and totally unpredictable. The verse format lent itself perfectly to Vera's story of loss, family, friends, and ultimately how to move on after the death of a loved one. I look forward to whatever subject Chaltas decides to tackle in her next book!
I don't usually read books in verse. I say this every time I read a book that is in verse, but it's true. I can count on my hand probably the number of these books I've read. They are starting to grow on me, but I don't think I'll actively seek them out. One of the pros of reading a book like this is that you can read it in one day, like I tend to do.
Vera has to get away. It doesn't matter where. She just needs to be as far away from home as possible. She ends up in a small dusty town, taking up residence in an abandoned home and finding a job with an artist and with a small “second” packaging company.
The purpose of her running away is so that she can heal. Her mother is an absentee mother, always flying off somewhere. Her older sister has taken the role of mother all their lives, cooking and cleaning and caring for the two younger girls. Vera's younger sister is...well, she's gone. And Vera needs to figure out what she wants to do with her life in this small town with a box full of unsent post cards.
There wasn't much back story, just enough to get you by, and I found I liked this approach. It helped to make the book a good read, and you still enjoyed the characters of the town without having to know too much about them. And you really only needed to know what was going on with Vera. It was a good, quick read in verse that was actually enjoyable.
Vera left home after high school because she couldn't handle life at home without her sister Amy. Amy died and Vera's older sister is becoming smothering in the wake of Amy's death. So Vera leaves. She finds herself in a mostly deserted desert town. There she meets some unusual characters including a gay potter, a lisp-tongued store owner and a group of questionable almost-men. She finds work with both Milo the potter, and Lon, one of the questionable men. These thrown-together people help Vera find her way back from the grief over her sister's death.
Chaltas' "I Am Furniture" was very well-done and I was so looking forward to this book. However, "Displacement" disappoints. The writing is good, but the story is unsatisfying. Throughout the book readers are made to believe that Lon is running some sort of illegal business; only to find out that he is simply dealing in high-end art. But that doesn't make any sense. The story ends with a big emergency scene and one of Lon's own workers is arrested for theft and violence. For as dramatic as the accusations of theft towards Vera and the "holding" of her earnings and private information, I expected drugs or some other illegal activity. Very disappointing.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Vera is determined to make a new life for herself. After her sister's accidental drowning, she finds her mother absent from their lives, and her older sister tired of looking after her siblings. Vera finds herself in the small town of Garrett, a deserted mining town in the vicinity of Death Valley. The town is mostly abandoned, and Vera goes about making herself useful. She obtains work with a local potter at his kiln, as well as some bookkeeping for an Indian boy, Lon, who is a local art dealer. He also attracts Vera's attention as a potential love interest. Vera learns that small towns have no secrets. As she tries to escape the grief from her sister's death, she is haunted by her ghost, and reminded how far she is from home. Thalia Chaltas does a remarkable job of telling Vera's story of independence and grieving. This is Chaltas's second novel-in-verse, after her debut "Because I am Furniture" in 2009 chronicled the patterns of an abusive father. Quick, thoughtful, eloquent reads. And this cover is fantastic!
This book is incredibly hard for me to rate. The plot is good, but I wish I knew more about her sister. The descriptions are excellent! I can taste the grit of sand in my mouth, smell the odors, and see the place she stays. Was it a life-changer? No. Was it a tearjerker or belly laugh book? No. It is a simple story about a displaced and broken person living with a group of others in a place. The characters are real and the place is a character in the novel as well.
See? Hard to pin down.
However, the way that the author wrote this book is very compelling and unusual. It absolutely fascinated me! She wrote in verse, or something similar to a poem. No, actually, it WAS an untraditional poem. She was able boil her story down thick, using far less words than one expects, but retained the purest essence.
Very good study on writing in a new style (well, an old style brought to modern times).
While this book was incredibly short and written in a style that didn't make much sense to me, I really liked it.
I loved the narrator's voice and sympathized with her pain. In hoping for a geographic cure to her suffering, Vera runs away. She ends up hitching a ride to a dusty, mining town and squatting in an abandoned home with a "For Sale" sign.
The town is filled with wonderful characters, who brought personality to this novel. Vera herself is a tragic and broken young woman, who cannot escape her grief. Her relationships with the towns' residents help pull her from the edge. My favorite is her friend/boss, a middle-aged gay man who makes pottery.
Seventeen-year-old Vera leaves home in search of peace following the death of her younger sister, Amy. Her love of geology leads her to a small desert town where she meets the few folks who remain there including Lon, a half-Hopi man who piques her interest. Finding a box of unused postcards, she frequently selects one to be addressed to her absentee mother, whom she called “The Moth;” the postcards are not sent. Emotional trauma is a big point in this novel in verse as Vera refuses to contact Carole despite numerous phone messages and she thinks she sees Amy numerous times in the town. Some language might be problematic to younger teens.
I liked reading this book, but overall I feel like it was kind of pointless. The book didn't particularly take me anywhere. The characters were likable, but I feel like there was so much more that could have been done with them to spice up the story. It starts out as a girl going to the desert and you don't know why. Then she gets a job and you start finding out why she is there. There are a few minor scuffles and it's over. While it was a fun and short read, I think it was pointless and anti-climactic. There just could have been so much more.
Sometimes in life one has to get away from everything to be able to recharge whether it is from the stress of a job or a death in the family or a questionable relationship.
Vera has to get away. She is suffering from a loss which she is having trouble dealing with. She leaves her home on the west coast and travels to a small, remote mining town in the desert to think through her problem only to encounter more problems. While here she is unsuccessful in finding solace and realizes she really needs to be home surrounded by a family who really loves her.
Not as engaging as I'd like, and I'm not sure the verse set up helps the story much. Vera is dealing with loss by running away from everything and going to a desert town. I didn't find myself connecting with her nor really caring about her outcome that much -- she never gave me much to latch on to.
This could have done with a little more background, a few pieces of the pre-arrival story.
Vera is escaping everything that reminds her younger sister who has recently died. Written in free verse Vera comes across as a very unlikable character and will have the reader wanted to shake her at times. She loses herself in a small mining town and takes on two part-time jobs. A touch of mystery will propel the story forward though it leads to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Overall a story that leaves something to be desired.
This book is in poem form, but it's told as any story would be. There's nothing poetic about it and that was a major let down for me. The writing honestly wasn't even that great. For it to be in poem form was such a waste of pages. I know I'm being harsh, but that's because I expected so much more from this book. I was interested because I thought I'd be getting Ellen Hopkins sort of writing style here, but nope. This was a major let down and I'm highly disappointed.