Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I have been very excited to read this poetry collection. I rarely, if ever, read poetry; I think the last poetry collection I ever read was by Shel Silverstein – and it was when I was in grade 3! Needless to say, my forays into the poetic scene have been long overdue and I decided to get into it with this book by Rupi Kaur, as it has been receiving so much praise… so here is my review:

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose that speaks about surviving. It is about surviving violence, abuse, love, and loss. It is about femininity and the ways one can be ashamed of it – and be proud of it. The collection is split into 4 chatpers, with each serving a different purpose, exploring a different pain. As we journey through the most bitter moments in life, the author shows us how we can still find sweetness hidden … if you are just willing to look.

My first thought was: this is a very short collection. Seriously, I read through it all in half an hour, and that is not a testament to my reading speed. I don’t know how long poetry collections usually are but this seemed unusually small in length. But as we all know, length doesn’t matter; it’s the content that counts! What I liked was that the author was unafraid to tackle difficult material like rape and abuse. There is a strong feminist voice in these poems, one that makes you proud to be a woman. I liked that the author talked about being comfortable in one’s own skin, because it is rare to find people who are. I also liked the hand-drawn pictures in the book. However, I don’t think that there was anything really special about this collection. Of course, the more voices that preach about loving-yourself-the-way-you-are, the better. But with all the raving reviews, I expected there to be something unique about Rupi Kaur’s interpretation and message. And there really wasn’t. There was nothing that made me connect with the poems, and while I could appreciate the sentiment, it just became too repetitive. I understand: love yourself. But how many times are you going to tell me that?! Out of all of the poems, only a handful really hit hard; the others were just underwhelming. In general, I just felt disappointed, which is really a shame because I hate being mean about someone’s art. Maybe I’m just too simple for poetry? Oh well, better luck next time!

Happy reading ~

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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a nonfiction novel in a long time and I don’t think I have ever blogged about it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my reading range. I’m so glad that I chose to read this book because it was such a fantastic experience. Here is my review:

As World War I took its tool, hundreds of young women were employed at radium-dial factories to paint clock faces with a new miracle substance: radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was completely safe, the women used the “lip-painting” technique to do their job, happily surprised to find themselves glowing from head to toe by the dust that collected after a day’s work. With such a coveted job, these girls were considered to be the luckiest of all – until they all began to fall ill. As the radium poisoned their bodies, they found themselves battling not just their physical ailments but the working industry themselves in one of America’s biggest scandals.

I never expected a nonfiction novel to be so moving and gripping. I could not read this novel in one sitting; I had to take multiple pauses because it was just so emotional. I didn’t know much about this topic before I began reading. I had just thought that this was an interesting event that involved radium, a substance I’m familiar with through my course work. I got so much more than that through this book. The author creates a vivid story that looks at the lives of all of these women, full of their hopes and dreams and despairs. It shows all of the different people involved that either hindered or aided in justice being meted out. There was so much courage and strength portrayed here and the author made the reader care about every single woman mentioned in the story; they weren’t just names but real people that I could connect with. While the novel was definitely more in favor of the women than the radium companies (which totally makes sense!), I was happy to see that the author did take into account the reasons why the companies did what they did; it didn’t make me sympathetic to them on any account but it did make an attempt to give a more well-rounded picture of the scandal. This was a gripping story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the women would get past each obstacle thrown in their way. The best thing about this story was the message of perseverance and hope and bravery that these women showed in every facet of their lives; they may have been dying but they wouldn’t give up on living and fighting. It made me feel so proud to see all that they accomplished even after facing such adversity. I can honestly say that I have never felt this emotionally invested in a novel before. What an amazing story and the author did such a brilliant job of making it relevant and appealing to the masses. This is definitely a nonfiction book you don’t want to miss out on!

Happy reading ~

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

So far, I’ve only had one experience with true crime through NetGalley. It piqued my interest enough for me to explore other novels that fit into this genre. I thought this one was quite unique because not only is it true crime, it is from an incident that took place in the Victorian era in London. History was always one of my favorite subjects so I was excited to read this novel and see how the author would portray this iconic crime.

Early morning on Monday 8 July 1895, 13-year-old Robert Coombes and his 12-year-old brother Nattie left their house in East London to attend a cricket match at Lord’s. Upon questioning, they told their neighbours that their father was away on a sea voyage and their mother was visiting her family in Liverpool. Over the course of 10 days, these 2 brothers spend money extravagantly and begin to pawn valuables to fund their excursions. But eventually, people began to get suspicious of this scenario. When the police were finally called to investigate, the discovery something that sends the city – and the press – into a mad frenzy, sweeping Robert and Nattie along into a criminal trial for a crime that seems straight out of the ‘penny dreadful’ novels that Robert loved to read.

The premise pretty much tells you everything about the story. On that note, I should probably warn you that this story isn’t going to be suspenseful; everything is pretty much told by the synopsis and becomes obvious as you continue to read the facts presented (and you could always Google it). The author has clearly done her research when it came to this story. She had a lot of transcripts from the court and included detailed accounts of witnesses to create a cohesive story. There were times when I felt as if the author was giving me too much detail; there were some facts that I really could not care about, but because there were so many instances of this, I felt like I was plodding through this novel. The case itself was interesting and the author did an excellent job of portraying the sensation through all of the different lenses; there was no bias or partiality that I could detect, which was so good to see because it allowed me to form my own assumptions. I was also happy to see that the author ventured beyond the case and described the aftermath and the changes this crime presented to the lives of the boys. The book is dry, I’ll admit. It reads like a textbook full of inane details, hiding those little nuggets of gold that actually hold your interest. Unfortunately, that’s not my style of book so it made it feel a bit like a chore to get through. Overall, I think the author chose a fascinating case to explore and she did a great job in covering all of the bases and portraying a cohesive story that looks at every angle. However, the overwhelming amount of (sometimes useless) detail combined with the factual writing style made it a slow read to get through.

Happy reading ~