May Book Reviews!

Poetry Picks:

Something Like Happiness


Alex Five

Truthful and unique Honestly this book sometimes revolted me - the words of the other man, the one who admits he doesn't know what he's doing with other people's hearts, hurting himself and others. At other times, I saw the writer's vulnerability utterly, the death of a grandma and a family which was broken by an abusive parent. It's a heavy book and there is a lot of pain and in that pain, I found truth. I felt deep emotion and some of the poems were also filled with beautiful observations of people and the world around us. Decaying nature. Beautiful and cynical. This book is something completely different.


by Alexandra Davis

This is a personal collection which explores a wide range of subject matters, however seems that come through are: body image, legacy, and family. Alexandra describes the moment at which she loses her son to his greater love for his father, having reached that age in which ‘the worm of adventure nudges him on’.

The poem which touched me the most was ‘Glancing’, the busyness and the chaos of everyday life and how the moment before bed time, maybe the only moment to make eye contact with your other half: ‘we claim this thing/ this chance this choice’.

The collection begins and ends with Alexandra reminiscing on memories of her grandmother, and so the theme of legacy continues in the readers mind after putting down this lovely and touching collection

Feminine Gospels: Poems


Carol Ann Duffy

‘Feminine gospels’ by Carol Ann Duffy made me realise how so many people have been inspired by her exploration of the female myth. Often satirical and always from a feminist perspective, Carol explores motherhood, challenging relationships with food, the way the press and the media represents women as objects, and dreaming. My favourite pans were: ‘A dreaming week’, in which Carol refuses make future plans because she would rather spend her time dreaming: ‘not the following evening, I’m dreaming in the monocle of the moon’ and also ‘White writing’, which explores the idea that her words of love to a partner are written in white and therefore in her actions and therefore implicit.

Fiction Picks:

Sour Heart


Jenny Zhang

This book is a game changer. Set in 1990s New York, Chinese families face poverty and discrimination. Parents unfulfilled dreams are taken out on their children. The pressure to survive and to achieve is high. The children which the short stories track are all about 9 years old - Zhang is exploring femininity and sexual discovery, but from a mostly ignorant perspective. There is a graphic scene in this book which others have reviewed as 'destroying' the whole book for them. I don't believe that Zhang is any less talented for writing with such powerful imagery and creating situations which, yes, make me squirm - there is violence in this book as an undercurrent which rears its head throughout - but it is only to aid the story. Isn't real life just as grim and graphic? We can't read sheltered books. Zhang understands the voice of so many - the characters feel real, from the grandmother who worries she will cease to be important, to little girls who feel cruel because they are lost and they convert their fear into anger and spite. You need to read this book.


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