Hi! I’m sure many of you all have read or heard about “milk and honey,” a collection of poetry and prose that deals with pain, healing, and growth. I haven’t read very many poetry books, much less modern poetry books, so this was definitely an interesting read.
I’ve heard people both rave about and scoff at Kaur’s poetry, so I was really curious as to how I’d feel going in. As you’ve probably already seen, I gave it 2 stars in the end because I just didn’t resonate with it. I don’t know too much about poetry so take my rating with a grain of salt, but I don’t know, I guess I just haven’t gone through similar enough experiences as Kaur or I’m just not at the stage in my life where I could. Regardless, I definitely found myself skimming through a lot of the pages.
The message I got from the book was that it’s okay to hold your anger and emotions as true, rather than constantly trying to consider the other side and trying to convince yourself out of your pain, because this acceptance is what lets you grow from your past; you should live as the main character of your life while also being sure to genuinely celebrate others’ successes; ultimately, being human isn’t being stoic, rather, it’s being honest about who and where you are now and choosing to grow, even if slowly, from it.
I really did like the message of the poems and how they let me reflect a lot on the values I’ve been living out, but I just didn’t understand the purpose of it being written in the form of poetry. I felt like a lot of the poems were just sentences split up into many lines or with a lot of repetition, and again, maybe I’m just not appreciative enough of modern poetry, but I just found it unexceptional. Still, every book its reader–I bet this simplicity is what makes the poems so powerful for others. Also, I have to admit I enjoyed the stream-of-consciousness-esque prose poetry a lot more.
One thing that struck me as especially intriguing about this collection of poems was its blunt vulnerability. Kaur didn’t even try to be subtle or unapologetic as she wrote the messy, internal thoughts people are often so afraid to vocalize, and this boldness was really refreshing and inspiring.
All-in-all, I don’t think this is a book I’d be quick to recommend, but I think this is largely because I read it when it wasn’t an especially necessary book for me. Perhaps I’ll feel differently if I ever decide to reread it. If you have a lot on your mind right now or a heavy heart you’re struggling with, I wouldn’t see the harm in considering picking this book up, and I’d venture to say it could leave you a little more at peace.
Some lines I liked:
“you must never / trade honesty / for relatability”
“our struggle to / celebrate each other is / what’s proven most difficult / in being human”
“you must / want to spend / the rest of your life / with yourself / first”
“of course i want to be successful / but i don’t crave success for me / i need to be successful to gain / enough milk and honey / to help those around / me succeed”
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur”
I agree, a lot of the poems had such striking messages and I liked many of them, but I had a similar reaction to some of the line breaks. They felt a bit artificial and might actually have felt more ‘poetic’ or lyrical (or whatever) if they’d been kept full sentences? The really explicit poetry in the middle of the book kind of cracked me up too as I’d only heard about this collection being super sad and emotional.
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I couldn’t agree more with what you said. The lines weren’t necessarily bad, but it was difficult to understand the purpose in the line breaks. Maybe it’s just a matter of taste? 😅
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