Wednesday, April 7, 2021

break your glass slippers - amanda lovelace

dear prince, 

if you tried to find me now,

you wouldn't be able to.

you see, when i finally learned

how to love myself, everything

about me changed.


the princess

(poem from back of book - image from )

note: the author of this book writes only in lowercase letters, so i plan to as well for this review.  

my review:  break your glass slippers is a semi-autobiographical collection of empowering poems for women.  in her women are some kind of magic trilogy, poet amanda lovelace tackled a wide swath of women's issues, but in this book she seems to narrow her focus, choosing to center her poems around a more specific set of themes. although this book still addresses some very serious issues, i felt like it leaned more towards trauma recovery than on the trauma itself,  the main message of the book seemed to be directed at girl who feels underestimated by others, frequently underestimates herself: the power you need is already inside you.  

unlike her previous trilogy, this book has illustrations. an image of the pre-dawn sky is repeated at the beginning and end of the book, as well as at the beginning and end of each section.  to me, the night sky with its the pink-tinged horizon symbolized a growing light in the darkness and hope for a new beginning, which seemed particularly fitting for this book.  there are also several black on white drawings with cornflower blue shading that created a lovely aesthetic and give an added emphasis to certain poems.  

break your glass slippers is divided up into three sections.  in the first and largest section i noticed a pattern.  the poem on the left page would often express certain issues/doubts/fears/emotions that girl might face and then on the right page a 'fairy godmother' counters with loving reminders and sage advice.   without writing out each poem, here's an example of what i mean:

if the left-hand page addressed    /    the right-hand page countered with:

societal expectations of beauty    /    you don't owe anyone 'pretty' and size is not what matters

lack of familial love...     /     ...doesn't mean you are unlovable

always hiding how you feel    /    always speak your truth

would anyone miss you?   /    it's not time to go yet

wishing to be good enough   /   accept yourself the way you are

longing to be worthy of 'him'   /    your worth is not defined his presence

that feeling of being swept away    /    infatuation is not love

getting lost in someone else     /     remember to take care of you

having to defend him     /     don't ignore the red flags

...and so on.  i thought the way the poems were organized was a brilliant.  it briefly acknowledged the insecurities and trauma that many of women face and then provide meaningful counsel.

at the end of first section, the fairy godmother disappears as the girl realizes she can make her own dreams come true.  and so, in the second section, the poems take new form, and evoke images of a girl who takes the reins and begins to write her own story, sharing the personal affirmations and lessons she has learned.  the third section is a single poem that focuses on a final message of empowerment.

even though i don't agree with a few of the poems messages or love every word choice, i would feel fairly comfortable handing my 15 and 17-year-old girls this book.  the pros far outweigh the cons.  we'd probably have a little conversation about certain lines and then i'd enjoy hearing their thoughts and favorite poems.

here are five of my favorite poems (i couldn't pick just one):

you are not a thing

that can ever be

claimed, conquered,

or irreparably ruined

by someone else's hands.

he may like to think

he wields that much power

but he doesn't.


you are limitless.

you can have the lipstick.

you can have the sword.


he is not the standard by which you should be

measuring your worth in this world. before he

came along, you were a fierce wonder to 

behold. you will continue to be that long after

he walks away from you.


there is nothing                        there is everything

unfeminist                                unfeminist

about the girl                            about those

who chooses                            who try to

the ball gown                            shame her for

& the prince.                            her choices.


run far, far away from anyone

who makes you feel like

you have to give them parts of yourself

you're not ready or willing to give.

doing this doesn't mean

you're a tease, a prude, or ashamed.

your body belongs to you

& you decide what you do with it.


pretty great, eh!?  overall, i enjoyed this book and feel that the main message of female empowerment, personal worth, and inner strength is worth supporting. 

my rating: 4 stars

for the sensitive reader:  this book contains approx. four instances of profanity (of the F, H, and GD variety) and comes with a trigger warning, albeit a significantly smaller one than it's predecessors: this book contains sensitive material relating to child abuse, toxic friendships, toxic romantic relationships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, fatphobia, suicide, trauma, & possibly more.  remember to practice self-care before, during, & after reading.  

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