Review: Grief is a Thing with Feathers (Max Porter) 

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Genre: Short Stories, Poetry
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: September 17, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
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Blurb:
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

In this extraordinary debut – part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth, Grief is the Thing with Feathers marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent.

Review:

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a novella with 3 POVs: Crow, Dad, The Boys. I was drawn into reading this after hearing wonderful reviews about it. I didn’t really know what it was entirely about other than the fact it revolved around the theme of grief and it somehow linked to Ted Hughes’ famous work Crow.

So I picked this up at my local bookstore and immediately I loved the writing style of this book. It consists of short passages from each POV that brings us a new perspective on grief. Crow happens to be the product of the family’s imagination that manifests in helping them cope with the Mother’s death. This book captures the essence of grief and how difficult it is to cope with it. You can’t help but to feel sorrow and heartbroken reading the Boys and Dad’s monologues surrounding the death of the Mother. From little boys to grown up young men, we’re shown how the death of their mom affected their emotional well being as they grew up. The Dad felt like he lost his other half and spent his entire life grieving for his lost partner. And the Crow is there the entire time to make sure this family comes to terms with their grief and learn not to be hopeless anymore in spite of it.

This book had the nice balance of emotional burden, humour and happiness. Some parts of the book had me chuckling, especially the dialogues between Crow and Dad. Though this book was wonderfully written,  I can’t say I loved this book to death. I didn’t, or rather couldn’t, grasp how or why this book blew away everyone’s minds. I have experienced my own grief when my maternal grandmother passed away when I was 12, so my lack of enjoyment is not from the lack of grieving experience. But rather, the book just wasn’t for me and I couldn’t connect with the book emotionally.

RATING: ★★★

I still enjoyed this as a whole, and I believe that if you are looking for an unconventional novella that questions how to cope with grief, this is definitely for you!

Review: Milk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)


Genre:
Poetry
Publisher: Createspace
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Personal
Page Count: 204
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Blurb:
The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

REVIEW:

This book…Broke. Me. Into. Pieces.

From the first page, the words were so raw and emotional that they took me by surprise. I did not expect Rupi to talk of such things in the first chapter (The Hurting) and found myself furiously flipping the pages to see how it all ends. A warning ahead, it can get quite visual and sexualised, so this book is definitely meant for more matured readers!

“it takes grace
to remain kind
in cruel situations”

Each chapter was a beautiful collection of words which were lyrical and ethereal in the most beautiful way. You find yourself going through the turbulent emotions set forth: pain, heartbreak, acceptance, love, loss, empowerment (not necessarily in that order). I love the chapters about love and heart break. And the healing section was God-sent the way I see it. I’ve been going through some emotional turbulence myself these past 2 weeks and reading about self-acceptance, empowerment and the ability to hold your head high in face of any challenge is very inspiring.

“people go
but how they left
always stays”

I was grateful to have stumbled across this book when I did (thanks Suya!). I rarely find poetry books that I’ve enjoyed entirely. Rupi’s words will bring to you a different sense of surroundings even though she talks about the world we inhabit. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for truthful and meaningful prose questioning the prejudice women of colour face, sexual harassment every woman has been dealt with, and every heartbreak that every human being has experienced.

“your body
is a museum
of natural disasters
can you grasp
how stunning that is”

RATING: ★★★★★

Review: Letters to You (Almaz A.)

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Independent
Publication date: August 1, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Author in exchange for honest review
Page Count: 96
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Blurb:
Some people spend a lifetime looking for someone to call home. I found you.

Letters to You is Almaz’s debut poetry collection that narrates her journey to finding love by experiencing fear, hesitation, courage and ultimately letting herself freefall into the arms of her soulmate.

REVIEW:

“So I’d give up all the pain I’ve kept harbored within me
Forsake all the bitter memories that has kept me from falling
Just to make room for you”

I fell in love with the beautiful prose contained within this small but impactful book. It’s always a pleasure to find a local writer who writes poetry beautifully and Almaz is a wonderful writer. I found myself tabbing so many of her words because they reminded me of my own relationship and the struggle to find someone you’re comfortable with.

This book talks of the journey being heartbroken caused by a past and stumbling across a person who helped you heal and believe in love again. I love how simple and straightforward it was, because that is how I view love. It is meant to be easy, but it doesn’t mean finding it is.

“But there is a difference between being strong on your own and being strong with someone by your side
That is where my need for you comes from
I have tasted loneliness; I have walked my own path of self-discovery
But I have not begun to discover us”

Letters to You is a scrapbook of feelings and emotions into which we pour our hearts into finding our true love. It talks of insecurities and exhaustion that comes in containing these overwhelming emotions. It also talks of comforts, silences, heartbeats and many many sleepless nights surrounding newfound love and the many many dream-filled nights surrounding old ones.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book that I read it in one sitting. I believe everyone can find something to relate to in this book, either you’re in a relationship or looking to fall in love (again).

Give it try, you might find words that break your heart.

RATING: ★★★★

Thank you to the author, @almazspilledink, for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Illustrations in this book are created by Zahira Zahari.