WHEN THE WORLD BREAKS OPEN by Seema Reza

WHEN THE WORLD BREAKS OPEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A memoir of the young poet as a mother, lover, daughter, and teacher.

Though Reza and her husband met in Bangladesh, the family homeland for each, most of these chapters, poems, and fragments are rooted in their American experience. This is where they raised two sons, suffered another difficult pregnancy (the most sustained and wrenching narrative in the memoir), and saw their marriage rupture in anger and bouts of craziness. Her attempts to “turn jagged truth into art” also reflect her experiences with hospitalized veterans as they deal with their trauma and she teaches them writing and art as therapeutic tools. “Writing is what I believe in most of all, writing has saved my life,” she tells them. “Writing saves my life on a regular basis.” At the start of the book, the author explains that she and her husband lived together for 16 months after deciding to separate, a decision that seems to have been more hers than his. They eventually shared custody of their young sons, and she had to balance the time she spent with them (and her loneliness when they were apart) with her vocation of helping the soldiers and her rediscovery of herself as a woman who is sexual as well as maternal. Her relationships don’t seem to last long, for, as she writes, “When I saw myself through his eyes, I saw someone I liked….Myself, in his eyes. That’s who I kept falling in love with. Myself, in all of their eyes. And when I don’t like what I see, I find another pair of eyes.” The author writes with self-lacerating honesty, but one senses that her former husband and her sons would have different stories to tell, different perspectives, and different memories. She admits, “by the time the story travels from my life through my memory into your hands, dear reader, it will not quite be non-fiction.”

Blurring boundaries, Reza exercises literary license and often writes with poetic power.

Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59709-744-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2015




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