Christine Hepperman’s Ask Me How I Got Here is a story of change and discovery told through poetry (as so many stories of change are). The speaker, Addie, navigates the decision to have—and how she changes as a result of having—an abortion with presence and wisdom some adults do not even possess.
Addie is a star track athlete and good student at Immaculate Heart Academy, an all-girls Catholic school. Her parents are “Cafeteria Catholic[s]” and understand the nuances in religion, raising children, and making difficult decisions, but that doesn’t mean Addie’s choice is any easier to make, or that it’s any easier for her to process how her decision it affects her.
Addie’s poems are categorized in months, from April to October, from mostly carefree high school student to a complex young lady who understands complications. Rather than ignoring what has happened to her, Addie works through so much: no longer wanting to live up to the expectations of everyone around her, wanting to understand why women grieve after abortions, why it is some women change so much after having an abortion.
She wonders, “…don’t all of us come in pieces?” as she looks at the construct of the holy trinity, but then turns the idea on herself as she begins to realize how she’s changed. We cannot all be the “daughter” or “girlfriend” everyone expects, “no matter how hard” we may try.
Ultimately, Ask Me How I Got Here is a story I could relate to. A story of change, acceptance, and loss, but all the while more about growth—and not just the how or why a teenage girl must suddenly mature. It’s about how we all make choices that affect us for the rest of our lives, but more significantly, how we choose to let them affect us.
Addie has always known what she was running toward, whether in cross country, in her all-girls Catholic school, or in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night, and she gets pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross country anymore; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit.