PSA: This “review” isn’t going to do this book justice.
The friend who recommended Milk and Honey to me (who’s review of it you can read here) and I sat around one night discussing how we weren’t sure how to talk about Rupi Kaur’s poetry on our blogs. We both knew we wanted to review it – we just didn’t know how, because anything we wrote about it wouldn’t be written the way we wanted it to be.
We’d seen reviewers talk about how they “couldn’t put it down”, like it’s a page turner the same way that a fantasy novel is – and to us that just didn’t feel right. We wanted to be more delicate with it, give it more meaning. But more than that, I personally don’t feel that cliches such as “it’s a page turner” are true about Milk and Honey. There were often times where I didn’t turn the page at all; I just kept staring at the poem and the drawing that went with it. Reading and re-reading – often out loud – trying to wrap my head around the words that were explaining themselves so well.
And I did put the book down. Lots. There were times when I genuinely couldn’t continue reading because enough was enough – this poetry was dredging up feelings from when I was 14. Feelings I didn’t think I had anymore and then suddenly there they were in front of me written by someone else. And her other poems about women of colour and celebrating other females for being more than pretty – I had to stop reading then and calm myself down otherwise I’d probably have found myself walking through the streets at midnight trying to start a feminist riot.
My friend and I discussed plenty of other things that night too. Friendships, relationships, body image, feminism – we sat for about 3 hours talking, and no matter what topic we talked about we always found a way to relate it back to this book of poetry. The one thing we could decide on is that that is what is so special about the way Rupi Kaur writes – no matter what kind of life you’ve had, there’s bound to be at least one poem that makes you go “fuck, that’s it”.
Humans tend to do this thing where they think what they’re the only one’s to have ever experienced something – nobody else could have ever been this angry, hurt, happy or in love. But for me, especially after reading this book, I don’t think that’s true. We go through different experiences, yes, but we’ve all felt the same at some point or another. I think women especially are often bound together because of their emotions.
This is something that Milk and Honey illustrates wonderfully. It’s set into four parts: the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. Each section tells a different part of Rupi Kaur’s life – describing it in her own words as “this is my heart in your hands” – and although she takes the time at the end to thank the reader for being so careful with her words, it’s obvious that she wrote this book for herself as well. It’s something that has helped the person who wrote it as well as those who will read it.
Up until recently I used to be a fan of locking my emotions down; ignoring them until they went away. But now I’ve decided that giving my feelings the attention they demand, and accepting that they’ll never just go away, is a much better way of dealing with them. And then Milk and Honey came along at the perfect time, because this collection is Rupi Kaur dedicating a whole book to her emotions.
As you can probably tell, I have hours – probably even days – left in me that I could dedicate to talking about Milk and Honey. And as I predicted, this review hasn’t encapsulated why it hit myself, and others, like I wanted it to. But if anything in what I’ve written has made you think “I might read that”, please do.
I haven’t lied to you in this review, I’ve not dressed it up in fancy language and spoken about the caesura and pathetic fallacy because, if I’m being honest, I’ve forgotten what those two words even mean. Milk and Honey isn’t an easy read – it doesn’t shy away from the darkest parts of human emotion and it’s unapologetic approach actually makes it very difficult to get through. But it’s worth it even just for that one poem that makes you stop.