Wearing My Mother’s Heart

Candlewick. Oct. 2023. 112p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536230161.
Gr 9 Up–Spoken-word poet and London native Thakur speaks in living memory of tradition, family, and friendship, drawing from reflections on perseverance and resilience. Referencing her Gambian grandparents in the 1960s and the choices they made that broke with religious doctrine and familial tradition, Thakur uses free-form and rhyming verse in her “reflections on family, first love, grief, belief and resolution.” For instance, “Wearing our Mothers,” reflects on the joyful light her grandmother shone. Many of the poems use the imagery of mirrors and reflections to describe ancestral lineage and the art of seeing through the eyes of one’s predecessors. Though not presented as strictly linear, later poems focus on mature love and evoke darker imagery, but the closing works reveal an opening to self-love, empathy, and thankfulness. Poems addressed to an unnamed “you” speak to absent lovers, present caregivers, the poet herself, and readers as both subject and object of reflection. Some poems are brief stanzas, like a whisper of memory or a half-remembered song, which risk appearing simplistic or sentimental fragments that could have been developed further.
VERDICT This collection will resonate with readers who enjoy the poems of Naomi Shihab Nye and the works of Elizabeth Acevedo and will appeal to the poet’s many social media followers.

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