A young poet displays evidence of impending mastery.

These poems by a teen author pass a key test: They stand up to and deepen with rereading.

Original, reflective, deploying an extensive vocabulary and vibrant verbs, Hoff’s poems rarely stumble. Often written in the first person but not egocentric, they focus on objects, like a plant or pears, items that evoke a place, and people met in the neighborhood. Some forthrightly explore an emotion, as in “How Do I Say Regret?” which expands from the minuscule and overlooked (a dead insect) to ask forgiveness of language itself. “On a Painting by Henri Rousseau,” “The Ambassador,” and several others are poems catalyzed by artworks. There is occasional social commentary, like a poem addressed to Black Panther Bobby Hutton. Most of the poems are free verse, but Hoff also bravely tackles the difficult pantoum. The epigraph and a couple of poems explicitly reference Slovenian absurdist poet Tomaž Šalamun, including an apocalyptic one dedicated to him, though most poems in this volume are more imagist than absurdist. Another end-times poem evokes the future Götterdämmerung. “It All Adds Up to Fun Times” provides explicit instructions: “Look for the hidden cracks inside the mountains. / Walk far to become your background. / Pick one of the many options that dangle before your eyes,” closing with the confident command, “Remember my words....”

A young poet displays evidence of impending mastery. (Poetry. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9780894091551

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Art Foundation-Stone Soup, Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023



A gentle emphasis on hope and healing makes this a compassionate, restorative collection.

British Indian poet and playwright Gill’s first work for young adults is a tender, feminist examination of hard topics that honors quiet moments of healing and connection.

This poetry collection, organized around the four seasons, has sections that begin with a line of advice for each sign in the zodiac. Many of the poems focus on women’s bonds and identity: There are meditations on the women who have come before and those who will come after, emphasizing enduring mutual support. Romantic love, with partners of different genders, and self-love are explored next. The family section delves into toxic family ties and different parental reactions to coming out. There’s also a powerful meditation on colorism: “As a child, the aunties called my sister Coal. / Coal because of the colour of her skin, / not because of her ability to become fuel, / to glow so brightly despite them.” The next few sections—on hurting, protest, and body image—are empowering, inclusive reminders of one’s value. Topics like microaggressions, climate change, and the importance of voting are addressed: “You deserve a future filled with hope.” The concluding pieces about healing, friendship, and found family are soothing and beautiful. The concise poems, many of which contain abstract ruminations that feel relevant to many moments of joy and pain, combined with Gill’s black-and-white sketches, are accessible and welcoming.

A gentle emphasis on hope and healing makes this a compassionate, restorative collection. (author’s note) (Poetry. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781529083606

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023



An earnest but didactic collection that is both personal and political.

Free-form poetry about the struggle to find agency is paired with softly rendered illustrations.

Alternating in style from brief, punchy verses to lists to longer pieces that read like confessional vignettes, these poems explore difficult relationships (romantic, platonic, and familial) through a feminist lens and examine the ways in which they can result in a loss of self. A trigger warning at the beginning preps readers for content that includes topics such as eating disorders, sexual assault, mental illness, and emotional abuse. These issues and more are woven throughout this collection that simultaneously embodies tough wit and vulnerability and is sectioned into four parts—“Half-light,” “Midnight,” “Starfall,” and “Dawn”—that reflect the emotional arc of the narrator. Queer romantic relationships are a subject of discussion, but there is no mention or examination of race or ethnicity as a facet of identity and experience. Understated grayscale drawings and handwritten phrases mesh well with verses that move with fluidity across the pages. While there are some stylistic embellishments, these poems are at their core distinctly message-driven, often taking on the tone of self-help literature. This will likely resonate with some readers who share the experiences being parsed but may not pull in those who don’t.

An earnest but didactic collection that is both personal and political. (Poetry. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17267-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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