These Are Not the Words

These Are Not the Words

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

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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 216 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.

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

Powerful, simultaneously simple and complex.

” —CM: Canadian Review of Materials

This title would be a great addition to a middle or high school library.

” —School Library Connection

[Missy's] resilience and resourcefulness … make her a character to remember and admire.

” —Historical Novel Society

I couldn’t resist reading it straight through. I just loved it. Truly, a stunning story. 

” —Kathi Appelt, National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honoree

A poetic punch to the gut. You won’t be able to stop reading. 

” —Martha Brockenbrough, author of Into the Bloodred Woods, UnPresidented, Alexander Hamilton, and The Game of Love and Death

A splendid, genuine, and beautifully told story, written with authority and an ear for music and truth. 

” —Louise Hawes, author of Language of Stars, Waiting for Christopher, and Big Rig

Missy's sweet and hurting heart nearly broke me … a masterpiece.

” —J. Albert Mann, author of Fix, The Degenerates, and What Every Girl Should Know

A truly moving story … not simply a memoir, but a page-turner, an historical reflection, and a poem, all in one.

” —Marthe Jocelyn, author of the Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series, What We Hide and Folly

I am in awe of this complicated family love story, in awe of its ability to throw us into the vortex and yet exercise restraint.

” —Rita Williams-Garcia, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author