Book Reviews Poetry Uncategorized

Book Review: Milk and Honey, The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Standalone Book

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Number of Pages: 204 pages

Genre: Poetry

Format: physical copy [paperback]

First time reading

Date Started: June 3, 2019

Date Finished: June 3, 2019

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Standalone Book

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 248 pages

Genre: Poetry

Format: physical copy [paperback]

First time reading

Date Started: June 3, 2019

Date Finished: June 5, 2019

I first heard about Milk and Honey through social media when Rupi Kaur’s poetry was being promoted throughout instagram with cute art pieces to go along with them. At the time I wasn’t into reading poetry a lot so I never really thought about picking it up. It wasn’t until later after I had begun following Rupi Kaur on instagram that I thought I might actually want to keep her collection around but still I didn’t buy it. I purchased the book for the first time in 2016 I believe, after I was already living with my husband. He was more into reading poetry than I was at the time so we purchased it with the intent of reading it together but still it sat on the bookshelf for a few years.

I had attempted to read the book over the years but I wasn’t exactly sure how to read a poetry book. I’d pick it up and read it every now and then, read one poem, and then put it down. At some point I also ended up buying The Sun and Her Flowers during a trip to Target because I really wanted to have both books in my collection. And yet, I still never read the books for a couple of years.

During the Bibliogames I decided to pick it up again since I had to read a format I don’t typically read. I rarely read poetry so I figured it would be perfect to pick up both Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers for the challenge.

I decided to read both books straight through as I would read any other book. I’m not sure if this is the “right” way to read poetry but it worked for me. As soon as I opened up Milk and Honey I was hooked from start to finish. I first opened the book up at 6 in the morning and I’m positive I had finished reading by the time lunch rolled around.

Milk and Honey shares Kaur’s experiences with rape, heartbreak, toxic relationships, and emotional abuse. These are definitely tough topics to tackle but Kaur does it with an elegance that makes you want to reach right into the pages and wrap your arms around the hurting soul that wrote these words. She opens up pieces of herself that many people wouldn’t be able to share and the way she does it with so much passion and emotion makes you feel like each poem could be speaking directly to the hurting within yourself.

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Both books are broken down into sections. Milk and Honey breaks down into four different sections. They are “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking,” and “the healing.” The “hurting” section chronicles a lot of abuse both emotional and sexual. It talks about how these hurtful experiences have impacted how Kaur felt about and valued herself. The “loving” section shifts to a lighter experience. It discusses the more positive side of relationships. It shows the happiness that can be created through loving experiences. This section still details both emotional and sexual experiences. The “breaking” and the “healing” cover the experiences of going through a tough heartbreak and then recovering from it. While the “breaking” section seems to dive deep into the own emotional turmoil that Kaur experience after suffering from heartbreak, the “healing” section seems to more so come across as advice towards those of us that have always experience heartbreak and also need help to overcome that pain.

The Sun and Her Flowers are broken down into five sections. Those five sections are “wilting,” “falling,” “rooting,” “rising,” and “blooming. These different sections tell the stages that a person may go through when dealing with heartache, loss, and personal growth. These stages are paralleled to the stages within the cycle of a flower. The first section, “wilting,” expresses how she dealt with the loss of live. In the second section, “falling,” Kaur cries out with emotional pieces that are overcome with the tales of her own depression. In “rooting” she focuses on her family life and past, essentially the roots of who she is. In the last two sections “rooting” and “blooming” the poetry sings of hope and strength. These sections make promises of genuine love, happiness, and growth.

Each of the books written by Rupi Kaur is summarized by a poem on the back of the cover, with the words of the section appearing in each. On the back of Milk and Honey the poem reads:

“this is the journey of

surviving through poetry

this is the blood sweat tears

of twenty-one years

this is my heart

in your hands

this is

the hurting

the loving

the breaking

the healing”

On the back of The Sun and Her Flowers the poem reads:

“this is the recipe

said my mother

as she held me in her arms as i wept

think of those flowers you plant

in the garden each year

they will teach you

that people too

must wilt

fall

root

rise

in order to bloom”

I would recommend this books to people of any gender, cultural background, and age. Regardless of your experiences or whether or not you can relate to her pain everyone can gain something from reading these books. I personally preferred Milk and Honey over the other, but that is simply because I can relate to more of the experiences within that book.

I wanted to add that Kaur’s writing style received a lot of criticism due to the lack of structure that people are used to in your typical, classical poetry. Many comments stated that it comes off as a “tumblr styled” post that is simply a bunch of sentences broken up into various lines in an attempt to become poetry. Basically people have decided that it is not truly poetry. But what is poetry actually defined as? Merriam Webster defines poetry as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”

Kaur’s writing does exactly that. And I can appreciate that it is breaking the traditional standards of poetry, opening the doors for a more contemporary style of poetry while also reaching a lot of different people that otherwise may not have decided to pick up the book if not for her open, relatable style of writing.

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