A sometimes-evocative but inconsistent set of poems.

FEED THE WHITE WOLF

A POETIC BATTLE WITH ALCOHOLISM AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Lahey’s debut poetry collection follows the speaker’s lifelong struggles with depression, alcohol abuse, and loneliness.

This set’s works are most effective when the speaker discusses his friends, family, and childhood, as those subjects yield personal details, clear images, and a cohesive story. In “Pops,” for instance, the speaker shares memories of his father, “Skating on a pond with frogs, / Racing at the back of the trailers, / Reading the morning comics.” These images make the larger sentiments (“the best damn father a boy could have”) feel more meaningful. “The Wolf” points out “It really is simple: / The wolf you will be, / The black or the white, / The one that you feed,” while in “The White Wolf,” the speaker asserts: “The white wolf is me”—essentially, one who chooses to fight against his vices, instead of giving into them. This essential choice provides the collection’s central main theme. The poet often achieves the tone of a nursery rhyme in his works, which is disturbing and even haunting in the more hard-edged poems. On the other hand, some verses pay insufficient attention to detail; in “12,” for instance, the speaker broadly says, “I felt so alive and cool. / Little did I know, still a young boy, / That I was nothing but a naive fool,” which makes it difficult to actually visualize the boy. This collection might have been stronger if the speaker had shown how his emotions spurred him to action, instead of merely stating them, and allowed readers to witness his pain and suffering firsthand. In “Life,” the speaker relies on clichéd phrases (“Here one day / Gone the next”; “Life is too short”); these might have lingered with readers if the rest of the poems were stronger, instead of relying on vague, basic concepts of light and dark.

A sometimes-evocative but inconsistent set of poems.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-66320-399-1

Page Count: 138

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2021

Did you like this book?

A page-turning, informative read with a tender shoutout to service dogs.

GUIDING EMILY

A TALE OF LOVE, LOSS, AND COURAGE

Hinske’s emotionally charged novel toggles between the storylines of a successful programmer who has gone blind and an earnest pup determined to ace his training as a guide dog.

The tale begins with first-person narration by Garth, a guide dog who is excited about being introduced to “Emily. The woman who would become everything to me.” On his way to meet her, something on the carpet distracts him. “Is that a Cheeto? A Crunchy Cheeto?” he thinks. “I love Crunchy Cheetos.” Flashback to Emily Main, who is in Fiji with her fiance, Connor Harrington III, for their destination wedding. They are a power couple—he’s a top salesman for a large corporation; she’s a lead programmer. Emily suffers from myopic degeneration, which could result in detached retinas, and a fall from horseback causes her to lose her eyesight. Emily, a fiercely independent woman, plummets into a deep depression from which she would not have recovered had it not been for Dhruv, a programmer on her team at work. Dhruv convinces her to attend classes at the Foundation for the Blind, where she confronts her fears, learning skills for living independently. Meanwhile, and separately, Garth undergoes his own rigorous instruction and struggles, including a traumatizing incident in a restaurant where he is attacked by another dog. The two narratives do not converge until the concluding chapters of the novel. Hinske rotates third-person narration of Emily’s story with delightful chapters written in Garth’s voice. Despite the dog’s own anxieties, he provides the novel with comic relief. During a training session on navigating stairs, Garth observes a “two-legged mother” with “a mass of gray curls on top of her head” approaching, and he notes, “I’ve seen four-legged mothers with that hairstyle—they’re called poodles.” While Emily grows into a fully developed character as the story progresses, Connor remains a superficial player. But it is the persistent kindness of secondary character Dhruv that will capture readers’ hearts.

A page-turning, informative read with a tender shoutout to service dogs.

Pub Date: June 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73492-490-9

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Casa del Northern Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet