When You Ask Me Where I’m Going

HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2019. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062912619.
Gr 9 Up–A collection of poetry, prose, and illustrations surrounding the daily realities of what it’s like to be a young woman in a world that doesn’t always understand her. With six sections that highlight the multitude of conversations many women battle daily, this collection’s pages are painted with the topics of mental health, sexual assault, immigration, and feminism. Ultimately, the collection takes readers on a journey to fight for others, for family, and especially for themselves. Kaur’s elegant and informative poetry and prose packs a powerful punch. Broken into six parts themed as a journey across the body (“skin,” “muscle,” “lung,” “nerve,” “heart,” and “light”), the mixed literary styles open a window into the world of being young and a woman in an unforgiving world. This isn’t one continual story unfolding, but rather a string of experiences and thoughts that speaks strongly to women of color, undocumented immigrants, and those who are hurting. The gentle words empathize with and encourage readers, uplifting the soul, and praising every woman’s spirit: “a note to self/you are worth every moment/that led you to yourself/you’re the one i’d choose/every single time.”
VERDICT Fans of Joy McCullough’s Blood Water Paint or Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X will want this collection on their shelves.

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