Somebody Give This Heart a Pen – Sophia Thakur

 Somebody Give This Heart a Pen – Sophia Thakur; Candlewick Press; (9781536209921), 2020

Format: hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre: poetry

What did you like about the book? This poetry collection has some very powerful moments! The poem topics range from body positivity to Black pride to love and loss and everything in between. One of my favorite poems in the collection is a letter to her grandmother asking for advice titled “Grandma, If You Can Hear”: “Does a heart get stronger after breaking/ Or are we just better at pretend.”  In another poem, “feather bodies,” she asks “Why do these arms not drop into wings when I hold you? /How has anatomy not adjusted to the desire of the heart?” Heartbreak, physical affection, and emotions are major themes in many of these poems, which will make it a popular collection for many teens. Teenagers will love the sentiments within these lines and will enjoy the drama they convey. Still other poems are focused primarily on race. In “Excerpt from a Letter to My Little Black Girl,” she writes “Beautiful melanin, set you apart. / Beautiful melanin, work of art.” I do think her poetry is probably better suited to spoken word, but I could hear it in my head pretty well. 

To whom would you recommend this book? Students who like emotional and dramatic poetry, including love poems, will want to check out this collection.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It was hard for me to relate to at times and some of the poems were confusing. I also struggled sometimes with the wide range of topics that were covered. They are loosely grouped in the table of contents into “the process”, “Grow,” “Wait,” “Break,” “Grow Again,” but some of the poems within those sections fit only loosely. Some of the poems’ topics will be unfamiliar to American readers such as the one that mentions Brexit, Oyster cards, and Notting Hill (the author is British). 

Who should buy this book? Most high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: December 9, 2020

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