I was given an eARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a collection of prose and poetry, titled after the age at which Campbell wrote it, and it’s the first of her collections that I’ve read. Given her age, the writing is done well. However, for me, it lacked the emotion that I rely on when it comes to enjoying poetry. Most of the subject matter didn’t appeal to me: I’m not overly interested in poems centred around love and heartache, but I do like nostalgia and life lessons, and these are the ones that stood out to me in this book.
Here’s a few lines that I did like:
- (time and nostalgia both have a way of coloring a memory into something grander than it was)
- Every city I discover, every treasure I uncover, every friend and every lover, paints me blues and reds and yellows.
- I will make a constellation out of words and name it after you.
Here’s a few lines that I didn’t like:
- I see things. Then I feel things. And then I write them.
- Do you like living a lie? Wearing a mask all the time? Doesn’t your face need air? Let your skin breathe and your cheeks feel the droplets of rain pool in your pores. Your skin is too clean.
- I’m undeserving of love. And then At Last plays on the turntable and a last I don’t feel alone anymore as I drape my arms over your ghost…
To me, a lot of the more romance-based poems come off very melodramatic, but still not evoking emotion. It’s a strange combination, but I think that summarises most of my feelings about ‘Nineteen’.
The poems were separated into sections, but none of them had titles. I think this added to the book reading more like a novel than a collection of poems. Actually, it felt like reading an angsty teenage diary. I don’t know if this was to do with how the ebook was formatted or if it was something else, but the presentation of the poems were either very ‘all over the place’ and I had to keep going back to reread them to try and understand what they were meant to say, or they were squashed together and looked more like short stories. Some of the poems looked as if they were a sentence that just had ‘enter’ hit a few times in the middle so they looked more like poems. Also, the illustrations didn’t help with the formatting, but I bet they’re nice to look at in a physical book.
Overall, although certain lines from this are quite beautiful, this book repeats many of the tropes of it’s genre, ultimately failing to evoke emotion.