Abuela, don't forget me

Rex Ogle

Book - 2022

"Rex Ogle's companion to Free Lunch and Punching Bag weaves humor, heartbreak, and hope into life-affirming poems that honor his grandmother's legacy. In his award-winning memoir Free Lunch, Rex Ogle's abuela features as a source of love and support. In this companion-in-verse, Rex captures and celebrates the powerful presence a woman he could always count on-to give him warm hugs and ear kisses, to teach him precious words in Spanish, to bring him to the library where he could take out as many books as he wanted, and to offer safety when darkness closed in. Throughout a coming of age marked by violence and dysfunction, Abuela's red-brick house in Abilene, Texas, offered Rex the possibility of home, and Abuela herse...lf the possibility for a better life. Abuela, Don't Forget Me is a lyrical portrait of the transformative and towering woman who believed in Rex even when he didn't yet know how to believe in himself"--

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  • Foreword
  • 1. Abuela's House
  • 2. To and From
  • 3. Gifts and Fists
  • 4. An Education
  • 5. Senior Year
  • 6. There and Back Again
  • 7. Now
Review by Booklist Review

This emotive memoir in verse serves as a companion to Ogle's award-winning Free Lunch (2019), in which his abuela, despite being a minor character, provided major compassion, love, and encouragement to him during his most trying times. These poignant and powerful poems, dedicated to her, conjure up both nostalgia and melancholy. As Ogle's abuela's memories are affected by her dementia, this collection serves as a way to document and preserve the gratitude and affection the author has for a parental figure who meant so much to him. Through recollections of the smells of her kitchen and the safe haven of her home and vignettes that bring up specific moments from childhood or adolescence, Ogle paints a picture of what it was like to live, learn, and grow with his beloved grandmother, reminding readers that memories will always be kept alive in our hearts. The humor, reflection, and heart present in these pages remind readers to cherish their bonds with their loved ones and that small moments can last a lifetime.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Ogle pays clear-eyed tribute to his maternal abuela while covering heavy topics such as child abuse, financial precarity, and racism in this searing verse memoir, a standalone companion to Free Lunch and Punching Bag. Chronological vignettes depict Ogle's evolution from joyful toddlerhood ("My giggles cannot be stopped,/ they rush out like ants from a kicked mound") to tumultuous adolescence ("junior year names/ Beaner./ Faggot"), astutely describing desperate hunger, whiplash from constantly moving house, and the pain from his mother's physical abuse. Amid these difficult experiences, though, is Abuela's steadying presence; her unwavering belief in Ogle ("Your future will be bright," she says) and bone-deep appreciation for their shared Mexican heritage buoy him toward his future. Without weighing the narrative down, Ogle uses snappy verse rich in salient details and sprinkled with references to his previous works ("more than a punching bag of bruises,/ more than the butt of jokes at school where my lunch is free") to candidly portray the realities of his upbringing alongside Abuela's influence in shaping his identity. A bittersweet foreword references his abuela's dementia, which serves as a driving force behind this poignant story. Ages 13--up. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US. (Sept.) ■

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Ogle and de Ocampo are three for three in hauntingly enlivening Ogle's memoirs-in-verse trilogy: Free Lunch, Punching Bag, and now, Abuela. She is, as Ogle explains in his foreword, "the most important person in [his] life." Living with dementia, "she is forgetting me." Writing is his response: "My memories of a wonderful woman are written in words and verses and fragments in this book, unable to be unwritten." Once again, de Ocampo becomes Ogle's cipher, his voice slightly scratchy, achingly vulnerable as he recalls Abuela's house, her kindness, her never-ending support that saved Ogle from his mother's abuse, expulsion by his father for being gay, his own doubts, and self-harm. Together, author and narrator present an exceptional homage to the healing power of unconditional love--and the power of words--that nurtured a young boy into an accomplished writer. VERDICT Libraries should ensure ready access to Ogle's trilogy in all formats.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

As palliative for his beloved Abuela's worsening dementia, memoirist Ogle offers her a book of childhood recollections. Cast in episodic rushes of free verse and paralleling events chronicled in Free Lunch (2019) and Punching Bag (2021), the poems take the author from age 4 until college in a mix of love notes to his devoted, hardworking, Mexican grandmother; gnawing memories of fights and racial and homophobic taunts at school as he gradually becomes aware of his sexuality; and bitter clashes with both his mother, described as a harsh, self-centered deadbeat with seemingly not one ounce of love to give or any other redeeming feature, and the distant White father who threw him out the instant he came out. Though overall the poems are less about the author's grandmother than about his own angst and issues (with searing blasts of enmity reserved for his birthparents), a picture of a loving intergenerational relationship emerges, offering moments of shared times and supportive exchanges amid the raw tallies of beat downs at home, sudden moves to escape creditors, and screaming quarrels. "My memories of a wonderful woman are written in words and verses and fragments in this book," he writes in a foreword, "unable to be unwritten. And if it is forgotten, it can always be read again." A visceral window into a survivor's childhood and a testament to the enduring influence of unconditional love. (Verse memoir. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.