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A brief book of poetry that depicts the turbulent thoughts of a teenager whose faith in God has helped her through difficulties.

Debut author Settle was born with cerebral palsy, and her parents were told that she would either die young or be bedridden her entire life. Against such odds, she grew into a young woman with a job outside her home, and she credits her Christian religion for seeing her through life’s challenges—those specific to her condition, and those that affect all teenagers. In her poems, the speaker pour out her fears—of inadequacy, of being a burden, and of not being close enough to God. However, she also rejoices in her family members, her friends, her work relationships, and the strength of her own will. The poems make clear that Settle is grateful for the life she has, particularly those in the last section of this book, “Livin’ the Good Life.” Although the formats vary, the most common one employs unrhymed, four-line verses. Because the poems appear to reference specific instances in Settle’s life, any reader who doesn’t know her personally may be confused by some imagery, or about how people mentioned in the poems relate to her or to one another. Indeed, if one doesn’t first read the brief author biography on the back cover, readers might not realize that Settle is speaking specifically about challenges of cerebral palsy until they reach “Big Camo Wheelchair,” halfway through the book. The text is dense with orthodox Christian religious teachings, and the author seems to take readers’ faith as a given; aspects of her religious views appear in every poem. Some lines, however, are blatantly homophobic, which many readers will find offensive: “Girls with girls, / Boys the same, / Forsaking the natural / And burning with lust.” This is profoundly unfortunate, given the otherwise buoyant tone of the collection.

A sometimes-problematic set of poems, but one that may appeal to other conservative Christians.

Pub Date: June 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4787-7592-8
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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NonfictionMY BRIGHT ABYSS by Christian Wiman
by Christian Wiman