Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

i didn't realize
that poetry could be achieved
by hitting the enter key &
then breaking up a sentence




who knew that all this time
my english teachers were wrong?
- go to hell, robert frost


So this is going to be a tricky review to write, because opinions have really diverged on this book. Looking through the reviews of THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF IN THIS ONE, you immediately see that some people adored this book and others found it deplorable. Age seems to be the dividing factor - this book is a hit with younger readers, and I think the generational gap has something to do with it. The Tweet-sized snippets of text remind me of the emo blogs that were so abundant on Xanga in 2005. That probably betrays my age, though. People in the "know" are calling it "Tumblr poetry." I can't vouch for that, though - this fogey-in-process doesn't have a Tumblr.

Anyway, Andrews McMeel is going to publish this book, and I'm sure the fact that the author won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Poetry has something to do with this book deal. Andrews McMeel is a quirky publishing company that does a lot of novelty books, comics, cookbooks, and poetry. Since I've loved pretty much every book Andrews McMeel put out, I jumped when I saw this title appear on Netgalley. The fact that this book won the GCAs did make me more interested in reading it, even though poetry really isn't my bag, baby, and when one of my favorite publishers acquired it, that was the final painted nail on the elegantly manicured grabby hands. To my surprise I actually liked most of the "poems" in this volume, even if I can't really bring myself to call them that.

THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF IN THIS ONE is divided into four sections. Each one appears to address a different topic, and as far as I can tell, they are organized as such:

"the princess" is about how she grew up and came to be the person she is

"the damsel" is about suffering and how she almost lost sight of who she is

"the queen" is about healing and how she came to love who she is

"you" is directed towards the reader, and full of advice on what it means to be a human, and also a woman

There is a lot of suffering in this book, which is part of what makes it so raw. It's hard to get mad at someone who was brave enough to put their words to paper and then put that paper out into the world. We can mock how she chose to do it, but the fact of the matter is, she did it. Good for her. If writing this book helped her achieve cathartic release, as she claims at the end, then that is a good thing. If reading this helps others gain comfort through their suffering, that is also a good thing. Some of the "poems" are a little sappy, but there are also some great insights in here as well about self-harm, death, grief, rape, empowerment, feminism, and body dysmorphia.

At the end of the day, your opinion is your own. I'm not condemning the people who didn't like this book, because poetry is such a sensitive and subjective thing that is so deeply personal, expecting poetry to be universally beloved by all is ridiculous. Reading THE PRINCESS made me nostalgic about the blogs I kept as a high school student, which also got me through some angsty times. If you ever subscribed to "emo" culture, had an angsty blog, or the whole "chicken soup for the ____" phenomenon, read THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF IN THIS ONE. It'll warm your heart.

Thanks for the advanced reader copy Andrews McMeel/Netgalley!

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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