How in the world do I review this book? It's a love poem; it's a eulogy; it's poetry; it's prose; it's uplifting; it's heart-cracking. I'm one of the luckiest people in the world to know Will Walton personally, and it's such rare and wonderful magic to read a book that so beautifully reflects the author's empathy and authenticity. Will Walton is all heart, and so is this book. You should add this to your to-read list right now.— Janet
Being a human being is terribly hard. Those stuck between childhood and adulthood can be the most vulnerable, dealing with grown-up issues without the necessary emotional tools. In I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain, Will Walton shares Avery's story in a format that is totally original and a beautiful representation of teenager's inner emotional life. This book is a poem, a eulogy, and also a work of short fiction that you will never forget. Walton took big risks with this book and the payoff is huge.— Rachel Watkins
Walton is the poetry teacher I never had. He makes me want to eat up Sexton, Berryman, a host of other writers with a spoon. I left I Felt a Funeral in My Brain wanting to read other books, and then this one again.
I lapped Walton’s words up, because there was a funeral in my brain, too. I inhaled his meditations and observations on how alcohol wrecks a family and leaves no one untouched. I felt hurt, but I also felt young and new and an empathetic kinship with the young protagonist.
The poetry merging with prose format lends credibility, believability, and an accurate depiction of the strange sense of time and reality experienced by those floundering in new loss.
My favorite book of this year. I Felt a Funeral is a book that matters.— Barbette Houser
On the first day of summer, Avery brings home a stack of poetry. Later that summer, as he tries to navigate crushing loss and disappointment, he turns to that poetry again and again; the reading and writing of it. This book is Avery's bold and thrilling record of his heartbreak, love, grief, and family. It's about creating art through pain, and dealing with pain through art. It blew me away.— Tyler
It's not often I read a book in one sitting, but this one grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Avery's world, shattered by betrayal and grief and reassembled with the help of a passel of poets will reel you in, rock you gently back and forth, and release you into the world, transformed.— Hannah
This is one of the most spot-on assessments of the elusive space between grief and growth that I've ever read. Walton is delicate with his characters, though they are not as fragile as we may think at first, demanding more of our respect and admiration as we read on. These characters embody the best and worst parts buried deep in each of us, that roar out simultaneously when faced with life's inevitable tragedies. With a little help from the last century's greatest poets, Walton gives us an empathic and graceful, yet monumental, handling of what it's like to get through that which you think you cannot survive.— Erica
I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain made me think with the deepest parts of myself. It is a true meditation on love, loss, where the two meet, and what one can ask of the other. I loved this book, and feel it is necessary reading for every age.— Kerri
Not a poem, not a novel, I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain is a story in fragments. Our teenage protagonist, Avery, is attempting to piece it all together: a friendship that is becoming something more, a mother who fails him, and overwhelming, incomprehensible grief following the death of a loved one. Walton masterfully captures here the ways in which grief shatters one's narrative, the ways in which its sharp knives jab at unexpected moments. As Avery grapples with this most difficult of summers, he is also just a kid learning who he is. His phone is a landline named Susannah, poets become plants in his dreams, and his English teacher has loaned him a stack of books tall enough to last all summer (or maybe he'll need just a few trips to his nearest indie bookstore). Suffused with pop music and funeral rituals, and complex, genuine love, I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain is a nod to the vital importance of music and poetry as life-saving forces.— Elizabeth
“Avery has a lot to deal with—recuperating from a serious injury, coming to terms with his family history of alcoholism, navigating his changing relationship with his best friend, and coping with the death of his beloved grandfather. In Walton’s capable hands and original voice, Avery’s difficult summer is full of tenderness, wit, and the transcendent beauty of both poetry and pop music. I Felt a Funeral, in My Brainis a book for anyone who has ever been moved by a poem or a song, anyone who is or has been an adolescent, and anyone who has or will ever experience loss and grief—which is to say, here is a book for all of us.”
— Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC