Summary: In this collection of poems, Gary Soto takes us though the eyes of teenagers as they experience love. There are many different points of views in this collection, ranging from boys and girls who are experiencing love for the first time, to those breaking up. It was written for younger teenagers, but these romantic poems can appeal to any age.
Cultural Markers: As I was reading this book, I noticed that despite Gary Soto being an award winning Hispanic author, there were not many Hispanic cultural markers in it. It appeals more to a teenage audience. However, one poem did stand out to me. This was the poem entitled “Barriers.” In it, we have a couple, on of them Japanese, and the other Mexican. They worry about no one will understand their relationship due to cultural differences. They speak to each other in their respective languages to symbolize the difference between them. There are other poems that depict different cultures coming together,but it most of these poems can relate to almost any culture, with the main target being teenagers.
Personal Reflection: As I stated earlier, I was surprised by the lack of Hispanic cultural markers in Gary Sotos book. But that doesn’t mean that this book cannot be used. All poems speak of teenage love, through the eyes of both boys and girls. To me, none of the poems were too difficult to understand, which just adds to the reason that this book belongs in either a middle or high school library.
Awards: Paterson Award for Sustained Excellence in Literature for Young People—2009
From School Library Journal: “Since many of the narrators are 13 or 14 years old, these short, accessible poems will appeal to middle schoolers, especially. A great addition to poetry collections.”
From Booklist: “Young teens will enjoy the “love sick” puns and the metaphors, lyrical and sad, that show there is poetry in the way they speak. Grades 6-9.”
Lesson Plans: Maybe use it in a unit about poetry in general, or perhaps when discussing love through Shakespeare and his work.
Soto, Gary. 2009. Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. ISBN 9780152063016