Debut author Chris Baron steps into the arena of children’s literature with a beautiful novel-in-verse, All of Me. Baron takes on a number of difficult forms for middle grade reading—first-person narration, a theme of self-discovery, free-verse poems—but he does so with grace.
Ari Rosensweig has just moved to California from New York. That would be hard enough to deal with, but Ari is also bullied for being overweight, and his parents’ marriage is tenuous at best. Through the course of one summer between seventh and eighth grade, Ari makes a number of changes, most of which stem from his self-loathing and issues with body image. When Ari’s mother attempts to set him on the path of controlling his diet, he finds that it can lead to internal discoveries about himself as well as external changes in his appearance, but it can’t solve all of his problems.
Baron’s free-verse poetry is immediate and lyrical, allowing us access to Ari’s thoughts and feelings in a way that prose would not. Baron’s first-person narration allows the reader to experience Ari’s pain and revelations, both of which are balanced with moments of grace and beauty. All of Me is highly recommended for readers of all ages.