Saturday 18 June 2022

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Review: These Are the Words by Nikita Gill (#Ad)

A photo of the proof of These Are the Words by Nikita Gill standing on top of a stack of other books by Nikita Gill. From top to bottom, the stack incluides Where Hope Comes From, Fierce Fairytales, Wild Embers, Great Goddesses, and The Girl and the Goddess. On top of Where Hope Comes From on the left is a rainbow pin. The stack sits on a giant Pride flag, which is also the background; the flag is pinned up, and drapes over the surface, which the stack is put on top of.

I was sent this proof for free by Macmillan Children's Books / Willow Publicity for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Links with an asterisk (*) are Ad: Affiliate Links, which means if you make a purchase through them, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

These Are the Words by Nikita Gill

Published: 18th August 2022 | Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books | Source: Publisher
Nikita Gill on Instagram

From international poetry sensation Nikita Gill comes her highly anticipated YA debut These Are the Words: an empowering, feminist and beautifully illustrated poetry collection exploring all the things Nikita wished someone had told her when she was younger.

Reclaim your agency. Discover your power. Find the words.

Taking you on a journey through the seasons of the soul, in this collection Nikita gives you the words to help heal from your first breakup, to celebrate finding your family, to understand first love, to express your anger and your joy, to fight for what you believe in and to help you break some rules to be your truest self.

Gorgeously illustrated throughout by Nikita herself and featuring seasonal astrological poetry, this collection is an achingly beautiful, stunningly warm and fearless expression of truth from one of the most influential and well-known voices in modern poetry.

You do not owe anyone your forgiveness.
The trees do not apologize to the wind that uproots them.
The rocks do not apologize to the erosion by the sea.
The stars do not apologize to the universe
when they are writhing and dying out.
And you are not obligated to forgive anyone
but yourself.
From The StoryGraph.

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I was delighted when I first heard about These Are the Words by Nikita Gill. I'm such a big fan of her work, when I was offered the opportunity to review her debut YA poetry collection, I jumped at the chance. And it might just be her best yet.

This may be Gill's first poetry collection for teens, but it feels no different from any of her other poetry collections. These Are the Words still has the same tone fans of her previous work will recognise. Using the cycle of the seasons as a framework for these poems, equating a season to different moods and feelings, Gill still touches on the same topics she has previously, in the same way, just with a different audience in mind. Family, friendship, self-love and body image, love and romance, empowerment, fighting for what you believe in, racism, trauma, and surviving. Each season starts with poems for each astrological sign that fit with the mood, feeling, or theme she gives to each season. Along with her beautiful words, we get the beautiful imagery fans will recognise, of the natural world, the universe, the moon and stars.

This is a collection aimed at teenage girls, and while not every poem is aimed at all girls - Gill addresses girls of colour, girls who aren't straight, and girls who are fat, as a few examples - there is something I can imagine all girls, no matter what their age, can get from These Are the Words. Reading this book is probably the most emotional I've been reading her work; Gill had me sobbing at one point. And it feels a little more emotional on Gill's part, too. At times, there are poems where she is speaking directly to people in her life - her brother, her sister, her parents - and at times to herself, or her younger self, but the majority of poems feel like Gill is talking to you. That's one thing I adore so much about Gill's poetry, her innate ability to feel like she is talking to you personally, specifically. And there's so much compassion and understanding in this book; this isn't anything new for Gill, but it just felt like she upped the ante with this book. In These Are the Words, with fierce love, Gill reaches through the pages, takes hold of your by the hand, says, "Look at me, listen to me!" and tells of her certainty of your worth, of your bravery, of how you are whole even with your pain. It feels so personal, and there's such raw honesty in her words, you can't help but listen to what she is telling you.

These Are the Words isn't published until August, but it felt appropriate to review now, during Pride month, as sexuality is one of the topics Gill covers. Gill is bisexual, and there are poems in this book about loving people both of the same gender and other genders. Poems of first crushes, of accepting and loving yourself, of coming out, of coming out to your parents specifically, of finding the people who love you and accept your as you are - finding your people. They are just so beautiful, and sometimes painful, but again, written with understanding and love and certainty of your worth. Her two poems When You Come Out to Your Parents and Are Not Met With Love, and When You Come Out to Your Parents and You ARE Met With Love are simply stunning.

These Are the Words is a triumph. It's beautiful, emotional, and so powerful, I honestly feel this is a poetry collection that is so, so important for teen girls to read. But adult readers will also get something from this book, too. I honestly believe it's her best yet. My proof is full of sticky tabs of lines or whole poems that really struck me, and I can't wait for August when it will be released, so have my own finished copy, to share excerpts and whole poems, to see the illustrations I know will be gorgeous, as they have been in Gill's previous work. I will treasure it forever.

Thank you to Macmillan Children's Books and Willow Publicity for the proof.

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