milk and honey by Rupi Kaur || Book Review

“you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow”

Synopsis: Milk and honey’ is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

Source: Goodreads

Title: milk and honey
Author: rupi kaur
Links: Amazon CA | Book Depository | Goodreads

Age Group & Genre(s): Feminism, Nonfiction, Poetry
Point of View: First Person

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: 2016
Format: Hardcover (B&N Exclusive Edition)
Pages: 208

Kaur’s milk and honey is a collection of poetry I’ve been meaning to read for about 2 years now. But every time I picked up the novel, I got scared … knowing that this collection contains a number of HEAVY topics that aren’t easy to digest. Finally, I grew the courage to pick it up … and thank goodness. Kaur has the most BEAUTIFUL writing, digging deep into issues that society chooses to ignore. Completely raw and open, Kaur opens herself up through poetry, showing that we aren’t alone … that the things that have happened to us don’t determine who we are nor do they control us. We are strong … and we have voices.

CONTENT & TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains topics regarding abuse (multiple), alcoholism, anxiety, manipulation (toxic relationship), rape (sexual abuse, sexual assault, toxic relationship, pedophilia), sex, and trauma (victim blaming).

Flowing from one topic to the next, milk and honey reads like a story rather than simply a collection. A collection of poetry’s always a beautiful thing, but Kaur made this into a novel that follows someone along their journey. By doing this, milk and honey becomes a story that people can grow with and learn from. Beginning with loneliness and a sense of longing, the poems slowly but surely transition to self-acceptance and empowerment. In addition, the “story-like” flow of milk and honey makes the collection feel more complete and balanced … providing a deeper meaning to the entirety of the collection by connecting everything as a whole.

Kaur doesn’t shy away from the “difficult to swallow” topics, laying them open for the world to see. As an overly empathetic individual, I’m the first to admit that there are topics that can be triggering and difficult to face. Unfortunately, we live in a world where bad things do happen to good people. But that doesn’t mean we should hide these in a locked chest and throw away the key … this isn’t overcoming grief and sadness, it’s allowing it to fester and grow. Sexual assault, toxic relationships, abuse towards women and children, racism and racial injustice, gender inequality … these are ALL topics that aren’t “pretty” or “whimsical” to talk about. Kaur’s milk and honey implores readers to acknowledge these topics so we can fight to end them, making them obsolete. But she also discusses these topics to show those who have had first hand experiences with these horrors that YOU are not alone … YOU are powerful … YOU can overcome anything … YOU are a force to be reckoned with … YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Kaur brings meaning to the title and the way in which the poetry in milk and honey symbolism and connecting cultures. One thing I find MISSING when I read poetry collections is the WHY … why choose this title and this writing style. There are SO many different forms of poetry and ways to write it, and sometimes knowing the WHY helps explain the meaning of the poems even more. Luckily, Kaur does this in her introduction to milk and honey. After reading the story of how milk and honey came to life, the WHOLE collection made MUCH more sense. Kaur explains the importance of her connecting her Indian and Canadian roots, providing insight to the title choice and the reason for eliminating English punctuation and standard sentence structures. But this goes DEEPER than just how the poetry is written … for Kaur intertwines two different cultures and shows that at the end of the day … we are the same … we are all human, no matter where come from or look like.

As a side note, since this made me FURIOUS when I was reading other reviews:

For those individuals who complained about how the poetry has been written “grammatical” and how is has been structured … learn to read the authors introduction and educate yourself on the different forms of poetry before you decide to judge and critique. Kaur explains WHY she wrote her collection the way she did at the VERY beginning.

And writing
Like this
Is still a form
Of poetry

You don’t have to LIKE this form of poetry, but you can’t simply state it ISN’T poetry when … in fact … it is.

Side note (a.k.a. venting) over.

No woes …

So why only four cups of tea?

There were some poems that I just couldn’t comprehend or relate to … and that’s okay! Honestly, this isn’t “a woe” … it’s simply how poetry works. There are works that resonate with you instantly, some that don’t but you still understand the meaning, and there are others that you have NO idea what’s happening. But that doesn’t make the poem “bad” … especially since others WILL connect to do. But since I couldn’t COMPLETELY relate to the entirety of Kaur’s milk and honey collection, I didn’t feel I could give it a 5 star rating.

Similar to my experience reading Wilder Poetry’s Nocturnal, Kaur’s milk and honey reminded me of why I fell in love with poetry so long ago. There’s something so pure and beautiful about authors writing these real and raw forms of poetry, showing the world it’s okay to be vulnerable and open.

Most importantly, this novel reminded me of how beautiful it is to be a woman. I honestly think this novel can be read by any person, no matter their gender orientation (male, female, non-binary and much more). But as someone who identifies as a woman, this novel reminded me I am more than enough, I don’t need to fall under societies obnoxious ideals of female beauty, and I am just as capable as any other person … not based on my gender or sex, but based off of my skills.

I recommend this novel if you enjoy:

↠ A collection of free verse poetry
↠ A novel about feminism and personal growth
↠ Depth to the content and symbolism of the written word
↠ “Self help” and “healing” novels

Have you read Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey?

 

 

 


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22 thoughts on “milk and honey by Rupi Kaur || Book Review

  1. I’m glad you had such a positive experience, Jenna! I too didn’t want to dip into the raw and unfiltered pool that is Rupi Kaur (and I probably never will) but I’m happy to hear it made you so emotional and protective of it (even when you didn’t completely relate to or understand some of the poems).
    And truly, people are soooo lazy and stupid. There are tons of ways to write poetry – it’s basically its own kind of art form. I don’t enjoy it but I’m not going to rant about not liking the format or it not being “real poetry”. It very honestly makes everyone sound like an idiot xD
    Amazing review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! If you are a little nervous to read it, I promise you it’s actually worth it! It’s totally a personal decision, but I’m honestly glad I read it and it didn’t STICK with me like other books and such do … I think because Kaur provides the “healing” portion at the end.

      Oh my gosh yes … THANK YOU! I try to NOT vent in my reviews … stick with the facts and such. But I was SO TIRED of seeing those types of comments. You DON’T have to like it. Heck, you can say it’s not your thing and that’s cool! But you can’t say it’s not poetry … because that’s a lie … which means you’re lying in a review … you know what I mean? Sorry … venting … but thank you. I’m glad someone gets where I am coming from lol.

      Like

  2. Amazing review, hun!
    I actually heard a lot of negative things about this book, that you addressed above, where people would claim it to not be poetry. It’s good that you mentioned that in your review as well. Out of all poetry collections, this was the one I wanted to try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, love! And ughhhhhh. Honestly, it’s so frustrating. I’m a HUGE poetry lover, so I really dislike when people claim something isn’t poetry because of “this” or “that”.

      I honestly don’t expect EVERYONE to enjoy it. Poetry is VERY subjective. But there’s a difference between saying one didn’t care for it and saying it isn’t poetry … since the latter is lying. As reviewers, we have a duty to tell truth about the works we read.

      Sorry … this kind of thing just gets to me lol!!! But thank you for agreeing and letting me know it was good I mentioned that!

      I honestly think you’ll love it. Kaur does a fantastic job.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely review 💕! I was hesitant to read this book because of everything I’ve heard about it, but I’m glad I gave it a fair chance. You nailed it at the end when you said that even though works may not resonate with you, you can still understand the meaning behind them. Like you said, Kaur made it clear from the get-go what this book means to her. It’s unfortunate how she poured herself into this book, but some people can’t see past the style of poetry and their beliefs of what it should look like instead.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope! It took me a long time to read “milk and honey”—I waited until I was in the right emotional state (ie. emo LOL)—so it might be a while until I get to “the sun and her flowers”. I hope you like it as much as “milk and honey”! I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it 😁.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. LMAO! Oh my gosh, I feel you. It took me YEARS to finally pick up ‘milk and honey’. There’s a lot of heavy content, so it’s definitely smart to wait until you’re in the right headspace. I feel pretty good right now so i think I’m going to read ‘the sun and her flowers’ this month 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually laugh at the negative reviews that claim it’s not poetry, like who gave them the right to judge what poetry is. I’ve not read this book, but it’s on the list and I love how unfiltered her poems are. I’ll definitely give it a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAS!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! Like really … review other elements of the collection … but don’t claim the poems as NOT poetry … blarg.

      I was TERRIFIED to read her work at first because she’s known to be unfiltered, but I fell madly in love with her poems. I honestly can’t wait to read the next one. You’ll have to let me know what you think afterwards!

      Like

  5. This is a great review! Very thorough and well organized. To be honest, I’d seen a couple pieces of Rupi Kaur’s poetry randomly posted about online and didn’t think much of it. After seeing a fan on Youtube really go into depth on the purpose and subjects of her poetry I realized that it actually sounds very intriguing and covers great topics. Your review also helps. Do you think her work is a good entry point for someone who has never read much poetry? Thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad people seem to be liking this review ha-ha! I feel pretty passionate about it.

      It covers SO many topics. It’s an astounding collection of work.

      I actually find her work a good starting point. Free verse is probably one of the easier (in my opinion) to start with, since it typically uses language we are used to using. I would also recommend Wilder Poetry (I read Nocturnal and it’s really good) and anything by Robert Frost.

      I would ALSO suggest trying to read it out loud. I know it sounds silly, but poetry and plays (in my opinion) are MEANT to be read aloud, not like a standard novel. I find the works make more sense. I read the entire collection out loud at home and it felt both more memorable and personable.

      I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give Kaur’s work a go!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this meticulous response! I really appreciate it. I’m very interested in dipping my toes into reading poetry after a lifetime of not really giving it a chance. Kaur writes some things that are relevant and current to my own situations so I’ll definitely start there, and keep Robert Frost in mind as well. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course! I always feel bad because I write such LONG replies, so I’m glad that helped you ha-ha! That’s how I feel about Kaur. Like you, I related to quite a number of topics Kaur discusses. By the end of the book, I felt more empowered and inspired. It’s a great book that shows you how powerful you are as an individual.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a lovely, honest review for what sounds like a beautiful poetry collection ❤️ I have blindly chosen a module on Modern Poetry this year for my degree because it looked interesting… but I actually know very little about it. Thank you for giving me a great starting point! Now I’ll be looking forward to it even more.
    📕MP📚 X

    Liked by 1 person

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