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milk and honey review

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I usually don’t read poetry, but when I saw milk and honey by Rupi Kaur at the bookstore, a book that everyone has seen via Instagram and Tumblr, I decided to purchase it and see what all the fuss was about.  

This might not deem me a good reader of poetry, but I got through the book within a day. The poems were short and sweet (sometimes), simply stating the Kaur’s feelings on paper, alongside minimalistic sketches by the poet. The book itself is divided into four sections: “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking,” and “the healing.”

Earlier this school year, I was saw the book on the bedside table of my dorm’s RA.  I asked her if it was any good and she said, “I only read it when I’m sad.” After reading the poetry book, I could understand why she would. Kaur lays out the highs and lows of her life on the pages and many of the things she describes in her poems, young women can relate to.

In “the hurting”, Kaur wrote about sexual assault, family struggles and things a young girl might face while growing up.  In my opinion, it was the saddest one out of the four chapter and not uplifting in the slightest, which made it all more raw and vulnerable.  My favorite from this section goes as follows:

“She was a rose
In the hands of those
Who had no intention
Of keeping her”

The next section, “the loving”, is more uplifting, but the reader can tell it will take a turn for the worse due to the title of the next chapter.  This section reminded me of my first love and how it made me feel, so this was the chapter I probably related to the most.  This section I believe is the sweetest of them all and the “honey”, so to speak.  Out of all of the sections, the poems from this chapter are the ones I would most likely want to post on social media, due to how idealistic they are.

“You look like you smell of
Honey and no pain
Let me have a taste of that”

“The breaking” was returns the reader to a depressing side of the novel as it Kaur writes about the breaking up with her long-term relationship. I could relate to this chapter as well, after I dealt with a nasty breakup.  Luckily, though, I got over it, and so did Kaur.  

“You mustn’t have to
Make them want you
They must want you themselves”

The last section of Kaur’s book of poems, “the healing,” is probably the most inspirational and empowering.  It tells women to embrace themselves, their femininity and heritage, and to love themselves always before loving another.  This chapter reminds women that we are stronger than we know, to respect ourselves, and not worry about what the boys think.

“You must enter a relationship
With yourself
Before anyone else”

Overall, I thought this book of poems was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who might have gone through a rough break up.  

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Love, Amber

Sweetbitter review

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Fast paced, dramatic, hard, and true.  Those are the words that I would use to describe Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  If you were to mix Beat poetry with Crank and a dash of Gossip Girl, this book would be the byproduct.

This coming-of-age novel gripped me and I read it within three days.  The novel chronicles the life of Tess, a millennial who landed a job at a prestigious restaurant in NYC after running away from home, all by batting her eyes.  The restaurant, which is based on the Union Square Cafe, is filled with secret dramas which the unfortunate heroin stumbles upon and eventually becomes a part of.

Tess falls in love with the bartender, Jake, who has an odd relationship with the senior server, Simone.  Tess tries to develop a taste for wine and learns about the trade through Simone, all the while becoming closer to Jake.  After hours, the staff at the restaurant go to Park Bar, a dive bar, where they drink and snort cocaine into oblivion.  Addiction settles, in more ways than one, and Tess is free falling down in a harsh and cruel rabbit hole that she eventually has to crawl out of.  

The book itself is split up into the four seasons and sweet is turned into bitter.  Poem-styled recollections of lines dropped in conversations between staff members are scattered throughout the book: “It’s true, Chef called him a faggot.” “If one more bitch cuts me off to ask for Chardonnay–.” “And after I took the LSAT, I was like, wait, I don’t want to be a lawyer.” “But it smells like garbage and Fernet in there.”

Working in the “serving” industry, per se, I believe this book is spot on.  Servers in restaurants are no longer lesser-than those they serve, but on the same level, more or less.  They are those going to college, in college, or just graduated.  They know where the food is coming from, they have a system all of their own working behind-the-scenes, and have developed a palate all on their own.  They know what they want in life and still have the gumption and eagerness to get it.  Once a job performed by “degenerates” is now a highly coveted job performed by young white women paving a career path for themselves.  

But there is one thing the so-called “degenerates” and white youth have in common: we still drink and party too hard for our own good. “When I woke up again it was to a sunset I didn’t deserve,” the narrator said.  “I moved my neck first, craned it, looking down.  My jeans were on. My Converse were off, but my ankle socks were on, evidence of an outside presence.  I didn’t remember getting to my bed or to my apartment.  I sat up a bit more…There was a note safety-pinned to my shirt: ‘Please text me so I know you’re alive, Your Roommate, Jesse.’”  

The plot of a coked-out girl falling too hard for a guy that is no good for her may sound like it would become boring at parts, but the fact of the matter is, Danler writes so well and so truthfully, that the basic plot line can be excused.  Her writing doesn’t miss a beatt and can be described as sensory overload.  After the first chapter, I believed this work was Beat poetry in novel format. The sentences are brief, but powerful, with a few descriptive lists that make your mind wander.  For example: “BITTER: always a bit unanticipated. Coffee, chocolate, rosemary, citrus rinds, wine.  Once, when we were wild, it told us about poison. The mouth still hesitates at each new encounter.  We urge it forward, say, Adapt.  Now, enjoy it.”

Although Tess can be a Bella Swan of a character at points, nevertheless, I rooted for her, even in her desperate attempt to win the affections of the bad-boy bartender.  I suppose I knew it would end badly for her, but I rooted for her all the same.  

Before signing off, I have to mention that Sweetbitter is becoming a Starz show, backed by Brad Pitt.  The cast has already been selected and it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing previews for it.  I do not have a Starz account but I think I might cave and purchase one just to watch this series.  Perhaps when the show finally does come out I’ll do a review on that. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you want more book reviews, please subscribe to my blog!