How to (Un)cage a Girl
By Francesca Lia Block
2008, HarperTeen/Joanna Cotler Books
New York, NY
119 pp, $15.99 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780061358364;
 OCLC: 191697276

How to (Un)cage a Girl isn’t your typical book of poetry. For starters, the title and book’s cover hints that this book is likely geared for girls, but the author’s dedication, “For the girls,” definitely sets this piece apart from other collections of poetry. The title alone is unique and has probably aroused the curiosity of many people; however, the publisher offers explanation by way of stating the purpose of the poetry collection: “It is a call to embrace the girl within, to heal her and set her free.”

Heal? Set free? I, too, was intrigued – however, this blurb from the publisher set me straight and made this book even more appealing: “There are moments that every girl knows…for they are part of growing up, of uncaging yourself, from your childhood, your environment, your view of yourself.” In other words, this is a book for the girl who doesn’t fit in; the girl who has loved and had her heartbroken; and, the girl who isn’t comfortable in her own skin. Who hasn’t felt or experienced those things at least from time to time? If so, then this book is for you.

Block’s collection of poetry is organized into three parts: (1) Years at the Asylum; (2) In the Lair of the Toxic Blonde; and, (3) Love Poems for Girls. Organizing the book this way is perfect not only for the casual reader, but for those who prefer browsing rather than reading a book cover to cover.

Loved this book! I found How to Un(cage) a Girl to be both light and curiously refreshing while deep and thought-provoking at the same time. While there are many poetry books written for the specific audience of teen girls, How to (Un)cage a Girl is unique in that it explores and sheds light upon some of the more difficult, elusive, and tumultuous times in a girl’s life in a raw yet graceful fashion – not an expected find in a collection of poetry. Due to the explicit language used in a few of the poems and mature situations, I agree with the age recommendation of grade 9 and up as cited by School Library Journal. Worth noting, I also feel that this book could appeal to adults, as well. For public libraries, this book would be a good edition to any Young Adult collection.

P.S. My favorite poems are seventeen: war and vampire in the city of lost.
Read this book? Share your thoughts and favorite poems!