Review: When You Ask Me Where I’m Going

Title: When You Ask Me Where I’m Going
Author: Jasmin Kaur
Genre: Young Adult, Poetry
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Rupi Kaur and Elizabeth Acevedo, Jasmin Kaur’s stunning debut novel is a collection of poetry, illustrations, and prose.

scream
so that one day
a hundred years from now
another sister will not have to
dry her tears wondering
where in history
she lost her voice

The six sections of the book explore what it means to be a young woman living in a world that doesn’t always hear her and tell the story of Kiran as she flees a history of trauma and raises her daughter, Sahaara, while living undocumented in North America.

Delving into current cultural conversations including sexual assault, mental health, feminism, and immigration, this narrative of resilience, healing, empowerment, and love will galvanize readers to fight for what is right in their world.

Review:

This is an incredibly moving poetry collection.

This collection contains a combination of poetry, prose narrative, and illustrations. The poems give a personal, emotional look at Jasmin’s life. The prose narrative tells a story that demonstrates the themes in her poetry. All of these art forms combined to tell a complete story.

Even though I have had very different life experiences from the author, I could relate to many of the poems. One that was particularly moving read: “depression is this ghost that looks over my shoulder & nobody seems to believe in spirits.” At one of Jasmin’s book signings that I went to, she said to snap your fingers if something she read resonated with you. I was snapping along as I read this book.

I loved this collection! I can’t wait to see what Jasmin writes next.

What to read next:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Have you read When You Ask Me Where I’m Going? What did you think of it?

Review: Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind

Title: Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind
Author: Courtney Peppernell
Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a voice that is inclusive and open to all, Courtney Peppernell presents a tribute to her readers in the third installment of her bestselling Pillow Thoughts series.

A beautifully raw and poignant collection of poetry and prose, Pillow Thoughts III continues the series from poet Courtney Peppernell. Fix yourself a warm drink and settle into Peppernell’s words as she pens a tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing. 

Review:

I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I’ve heard a lot about this collection so I wanted to read it. I loved it!

There were sections of this collection about anxiety and love that I found so relatable. Some of the poems were just one line on a page, but they were poignant and memorable.

This is a great, short poetry collection. I’ll definitely have to look for the other books in the series!

Thank you Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Have you read Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind? What did you think of it?

Review: The Poet X

Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Young Adult, Poetry
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Review:

I really enjoyed this story! It is written in free verse so it doesn’t rhyme but it is separated into stanzas. Most of the poems or sections are less than a page long, so it was pretty quick to read though. This easy format makes it accessible for reluctant readers. Xiomara is conflicted in this story. She has to decipher between what she learns in school, what she learns at church, and how her body feels. It’s hard when teenagers get so many conflicting opinions and advice, but sometimes you just have to do what’s right for you. For Xiomara, that’s writing poetry. This is a great story for anyone who feels like they are having trouble fitting in. Sometimes, you just need to find your voice.

What to read next:

Because I Was A Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages by Melissa de la Cruz (Editor)

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Have you read The Poet X? What did you think of it?

Review: #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

33215514.jpg

Title: #NotYourPrincess
Author: Lisa Charleyboy, Mary Beth Leatherdale
Genre: Non-Fiction, Poetry
Publisher: Annick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

Review:

This is a very powerful collection of stories from Native American Women.

These stories were in multiple different forms. There are poems, short stories, essays, as well as paintings, photographs, and drawings. One of the stories was in the form of a comic, and another looked like pages torn from a notebook. Each of them were different and used a different format.

There were a few pieces on the residential schools in Canada. For those that don’t know, the residential schools separated Native children from their parents, and raised them to be “white.” They removed their Indigenous culture from them, and refused to let them practice it. The women who wrote these stories are the children of the kids who were sent to residential schools. Though they didn’t witness it first hand, they have seen the pain that their parents still feel from their time spent there.

There was also an essay about how racist and harmful a Pocahontas costume is for Halloween. It represents more than just a character, even if the wearer means no harm. It is a costume but it represents a real person, who cannot take it off at the end of the night. People also think that Indigenous women need to look a certain way. There were a couple of pieces on not looking Indigenous enough, as if you can’t identify as a Native Woman if you have the wrong colour hair or skin. I find it crazy that people can think that, because they wouldn’t say that other cultures. For some reason people judge Indigenous people by what percentage of Native heritage they have in their genes,

I loved this collection of Native American Women’s voices.

What to read next:

  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

    30257957.jpg

  • The Break by Katherena Vermette

    29220494.jpg

Have you read #NotYourPrincess: Voices Native American Women? What did you think of it?

 

Review: For Every One

Title: For Every One
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.

Review:

I just discovered Jason Reynolds a few months ago, and I am so glad I did. He is one of my favourite writers now.

This poetic letter was originally performed at the Kennedy Center. It has a great performative, spoken word quality to it. He repeats lines over and over, such as “I don’t know nothing.” This also puts his voice into the poem, since it sounds like something you would say, rather than write.

I could relate to the beginning of the piece, when he said when he was 18 I thought I would make it at 25, but today he still doesn’t feel like he’s made it. I kept thinking of my own writing experience and how difficult it is to “make it” in the publishing world. But then I realized that it could be applied to any dream. He doesn’t explicitly say that it is about writing. It could be any dream you have, and sometimes you just have to take a chance and try at it, whether you’re going to be successful or not.

I loved this poem. I think I will be revisiting it many times in the coming years. And in my opinion, Jason Reynolds has already made it!

Review: This Is Not a Spectacle

36565851

Title: This Is Not a Spectacle
Author: Isabelle Kenyon
Genre: Poetry
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Source: Author
Release Date: September 4, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898Goodreads Synopsis:

The extended version of This Is Not a Spectacle explores human curiosity towards strangers and investigates where curiosity becomes fascination with another’s grief or misfortune from afar.

Split into six sections, the poems range from my experiences of a car accident, my own fascination of others and strangers’ impressions of me.

It is an expression of anger from those who least want to be stared at and be put on display.

Review:

I have never been a big fan of poetry. But when Isabelle Kenyon approached me to review her poetry collection I decided to give it a try, and it was very good.

The poems are powerful and moving. They are divided into sections such as Homeless, The Care Home, and Hospital Rooms. They are all subjects that we can relate to, but are difficult to discuss.

A couple of poems really stood out to me. “Raised by the Internet” is about what people post on social media. The things that people post make us think we should behave the same way. The final line was the powerful: “Internet trends do not correspond to real friends.”

“Family member in fur” is another poem that was important to me. It’s about losing a pet. I have experienced that before, and I will again one day. It’s never easy to lose a pet because it’s like losing a child. But the poem described it well.

I really enjoyed this poetry collection and I recommend it to poetry fans and newcomers alike!