These Are Not the Words

These Are Not the Words

Written by: West Lewis, Amanda
ages 9 to 12 / grades 4 to 7

New York City in the 1960s is the humming backdrop for this poignant, gritty story about a girl who sees her parents as flawed human beings for the first time, and finds the courage to make a fresh start.

Missy’s mother has gone back to school to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Missy’s father works in advertising and takes Missy on secret midnight excursions to Harlem and the Village so she can share his love of jazz. The two write poems for each other — poems that gradually become an exchange of apologies as Missy’s father’s alcohol and drug addiction begins to take over their lives. 

When Missy’s mother finally decides that she and her daughter must make a fresh start, Missy has to leave her old apartment, her school, her best friend and her cats and become a latchkey kid while her mother gets a job. But she won’t give up on trying to save her family, even though this will involve a hard journey from innocence to action, and finally acceptance. 

Based on the events and people of her own childhood, Amanda Lewis’s gorgeous novel is driven by Missy’s irresistible, optimistic voice, buoyed by the undercurrents of poetry and music.


Key Text Features

poems

dialogue

literary references

epigraph

vignettes

New York City in the 1960s is the humming backdrop for this poignant, gritty story about a girl who sees her parents as flawed human beings for the first time, and finds the courage to make a fresh start.

Missy’s mother has gone back to school to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Missy’s father works in advertising and takes Missy on secret midnight excursions to Harlem and the Village so she can share his love of jazz. The two write poems for each other — poems that gradually become an exchange of apologies as Missy’s father’s alcohol and drug addiction begins to take over their lives. 

When Missy’s mother finally decides that she and her daughter must make a fresh start, Missy has to leave her old apartment, her school, her best friend and her cats and become a latchkey kid while her mother gets a job. But she won’t give up on trying to save her family, even though this will involve a hard journey from innocence to action, and finally acceptance. 

Based on the events and people of her own childhood, Amanda Lewis’s gorgeous novel is driven by Missy’s irresistible, optimistic voice, buoyed by the undercurrents of poetry and music.


Key Text Features

poems

dialogue

literary references

epigraph

vignettes

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd — Apr 1, 2022
Specifications 195 pages | 5 in x 7.5 in
Written By

AMANDA WEST LEWIS is the author of seven books for young readers, including September 17, which was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award and the Violet Downey IODE Award. She is a writer, theater director, calligrapher and drama teacher. She is the founder of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre, and she has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Born in New York City, she now lives in Brooke Valley, Ontario, with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones.

Audience ages 9 to 12 / grades 4 to 7
Key Text Features

poems; dialogue; literary references; epigraph; vignettes