This year I was invited back to read and post about one of the nominees for the Dylan Thomas Prize Blog Tour- The world’s largest literary prize for young authors. Again, I chose to focus on a poetry pick, that being Surge by Jay Bernard. So, what is it about?
“Jay Bernard’s extraordinary debut is a fearlessly original exploration of the black British archive: an enquiry into the New Cross Fire of 1981, a house fire at a birthday party in south London in which thirteen young black people were killed.“
While reading this I was shocked that I had no idea what the New Cross Fire was, even after a Google search I found little information about the fire itself and more about the activism afterwards. It seemed crazy to me that so many young people could die and so little seems to be said about it.
Of course, I’m no expert, but it does come across as something not being right. Officially it says that the fire was caused by an armchair but that many people being killed by one fire? It doesn’t seem to add up.
The way in which Bernard has shown this story to a whole new generation of people and has also linked it to Grenfell is incredibly effective. It really made me question how much has changed in this country in regards to racism. I’m a white woman, I’ve not been a victim of racism in my country but this gives me an insight, however small, into what needs to change.
As a debut collection Bernard has a strong voice and I can see more powerful poetry coming from them in the future. This was incredibly impactful and the writing showed extreme talent. While there were parts where I don’t think I fully understood what was going on, I felt that this added to the sense of disbelief.
I would really recommend picking this up if you want to learn about a chapter of history that I fear is often left out of the conversation.
Thank you to the Dylan Thomas Prize for sending me a copy in exchange for this review and good luck to all of the nominees! You can find out more about the prize here.
February may be a short month but that didn’t stop me reading. I did find myself in a little bit of a slump in Feb, I think because I read so much in January my brain needed shorter reads. So, here they are – have you read any of them?
On my trip to Brighton I found a copy of Renée Watson’s latest novel What Momma Left Me and I couldn’t leave without it. This is a story about a young girl who’s life changes after the death of her mother. It’s about family, secrets and finding your place in the world. This got 4 stars from me.
Next I picked up an ARC from Netgalley that I was granted. Sincerely, is a sweet collection of poems that was written as part of a proposal. A lovely concept with some sweet poems and a 3 star read for me.
Another NetGalley ARC I received, The Voice Of My Mind, came next and this one just wasn’t for me. It was also a poetry collection (I’ve been pretty into them this month) but I just couldn’t connect with the tone of voice. A 2 star read for me.
I read Always Here For You as part of a book tour I took part in, you can read the post here. This is for younger teenagers and looks at who you’re really talking to online and how young people may find themselves in this situation. A good read that would do well in schools. 4 stars from me.
This Soul Estranged was sent to me by the author for free in exchange for my thoughts. I enjoyed this collection and felt that I could connect with the poems and the tone of voice. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. A 3 star read for me.
Next up another Netgalley ARC, this time it was a graphic novel/information type book. A Quick & Easy Guide To Sex and Disability was a really interesting read and had a good message. I would be interested in a longer guide but obviously that doesn’t match the title! A 4 star read for me!
I got an ARC copy of Diary of a Confused Feminist while working over Christmas but only just got around to it! I wasn’t sure at first because I felt super old (I’m 10 years older than the protagonist eeek) but the second half of the book I was hooked. If you like Holly Bourne I think you’ll like this. Another 4 star read for me.
A bit of a light read (note the sarcasm), Fascism and Democracy is super short but I thought it was incredibly relevant in today’s world. Now, I’ve read a bit of Orwell before and I stand by my earlier assessment that his non-fiction work is long winded. That said, this had interesting ideas and was good to see it through the lense of the 1940s while Hitler was in power. 3 stars from me.
I received an ARC of What Kind of Girl and also bought a physical copy because I really enjoy Alyssa Sheinmel’s way of writing. This looks at domestic violence in young adult relationships. It’s pretty heavy and there’s also details about mental illness and methods of self harm so know that going in if that’s something you struggle with. Another very well written book. 4.5 stars from me.
I also read Letters On Motherhood incredibly quickly because it was such a sweet and wholesome read. In this Giovanna writes letters to her three sons, her husband, parents and herself about motherhood. While I don’t have children I fell in love with this collection and felt it was so honest about the highs and lows. A great read.
I read the poetry collection Surge for a post that you’ll find out about soon! It’s a collection that looks at race in Britain starting with the New Cross Fire, also known as the New Cross Massacre in which 13 young black people were killed. Political, personal and a new perspective this is a really interesting collection. 4 stars and you’ll find out more about it soon.
And finally I picked up a copy of You’re Crushing It by Lex Croucher which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. It’s a quick book which made me laugh out loud more than a few times while reading. It was a 4 star read for me and a nice pick me up.
And finally, thanks to the extra day in the month I also finished A Danger To Herself and Others also by Alyssa Sheinmel which I’ve had on my TBR for a while. It’s an exploration of mental illness and it can be quite a tough read but another excellent book. This got 4.5 stars from me.
I haven’t listened to an audiobook this month – for some reason I’ve struggled getting into them but I’m sure I’ll come out of that soon. Did you read anything good in February? Let me know below!