Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Will Walton
Life is moving too fast for Avery to be able to process it all. He is getting to know his own sexuality, grappling with his mother’s addiction, and reminiscing about the life of one of his favorite people: his grandfather, Pal. With so much confusion and uncertainty in life, Avery finds that the only things that make sense right now are the things that are just as perplexing and ambiguous as his life is. For this reason, Avery finds solace in poetry. If the famous poets have the courage to write about tough things, why can’t Avery do it too? And so Avery’s entire life becomes a series of poems. In these messy collections of words, Avery discovers a clarity that has been lacking in his life. Even amidst the turmoil of loving his best friend and protecting his mother from herself, he finds that there is a beauty in the written word that can help him navigate the uncharted territory of adolescence.
I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is told through a combination of verse and prose, as Avery experiments with writing as a form of expression. This gives the story a very artistic and whimsical feeling, but also means that clarity is not the priority. The events of the story also are not linear, so it can be very difficult to follow exactly what is happening. The reader’s confusion likely serves to mirror Avery’s own confusion during challenging times. It is difficult to not feel lost when reading it, despite the beauty of the words and the obvious skill behind them. For those who are seeking a solid narrative structure with clear literary signposts, this would be a frustrating and unsatisfying read. But for those who are at peace with the prospect of taking the more scenic route through a book, the text is really quite beautiful and moving. Even when the plot is sometimes unclear, the powerful emotions are always detectable beneath the surface, which is a tribute to author Will Walton’s skill and depth.
*Contains severe language, moderate drug abuse, and moderate sexual content.