As the writer explains in her introduction, this is a collection in which she reflects back on her younger self, inspired by rediscovering a poem written when she was thirteen. This is a very special four-line poem evoking the vulnerability of a young girl and her sense of wonder at the beauty of the sky at night, themes which are developed and echoed in the collection as a whole.
The poetry successfully captures the feelings and experiences of a teenage girl – from simple pleasures such as hiding a book under your pillow, owning a special handwriting pen or ending your address with ‘The Universe’ to the schoolgirl craze described in Yawn.
There is an emphasis on the liminal; a child on the threshold of adolescence and adulthood, an experience described in Suburbia as ‘bursting through childhood’ in search of freedom. Physical changes are suggested in Blood. The beauty and power of the metamorphoses is conveyed in Girl to Woman.
Many of the poems explore the tumultuous emotions and experiences of teenage years. Feeling unsure of your identity, even considering yourself an imposter in Doppelganger. Break-time explores the common feeling of not fitting in with the ‘in’ crowd discussing the latest gossip. Five Fingered Salute shows it is possible to rise above the cruelty of life in the playground. There are poems about young love and dating – compared to a game of chess in 64 Squares. Feelings of grief at the loss of a close relative are addressed in Ghosted as a loved one slowly seems to disappear, through we assume, dementia.
In Get Over it the writer advises her younger self not to dwell on the thoughts in her head. And there is useful advice to be found throughout the book. XX, at the beginning of the collection, points out ‘No body is perfect but you are perfectly yours’ and Advice from a Caterpillar offers hope for the future ‘For who you are has only just begun.’ There is an acknowledgement that growing up is likely to be hard and an encouragement to keep going, be brave and focus on the positive, looking for the ‘golden moments’ in the darkness.
The poems are varied in style and form, from prose to nursery rhyme rhythm. They are full of delight and pleasure in words and language more generally (one poem is entitled Punctuation). There are poems about writing poems, which may inspire young readers to write their own.
The layout and overall design is varied and very attractive with striking black and white illustrations.
This is a special collection, skillfully written and imbued with insight, warmth, encouragement and reassurance which should be in the hands of teenage girls everywhere.