Book Reviews, Books, Diversity, Poetry

Poetry Review: “You Are Here” by Dawn Lanuza @DawnLanuza

Title: You Are Here

Author: Dawn Lanuza

Genre: Poetry

Length: 144 pages

Publisher: McMeel

Release Date: February 12, 2019


I wish that I would have had this book years ago when I was in college. Lanuza’s direct and lovely lines speak right to the heart. Her words remind me of the lyrics to a song and many of these poems would work well as song lyrics.

I signed up to receive a free advanced reader copy of this book from Net Galley because I am particularly interested in the work of female poets, especially if they are of minority descent. (CLICK HERE to read more about my chapbook Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse- Poems from a Half Blind, Half Filipino, Wholehearted Preacher Lady.) This was my first time reading any of Lanuza’s work and I will say that I was not disappointed.

You Are Here takes the reader on a hopeful journey from heartbreak to healing.  Lanuza’s straightforward writing includes many clever turns of phrase to delight the reader. I found this book to be a quick and enjoyable read.

Lanuza’s work is deeply heartfelt. She manages ot capture in verse  huge and complex emotions. Her words transported me back to my college years- a tumultuous time in my life when emotions were larger than life and everything seemed to have such lasting importance.

The second part of this collection, “How it Bends,” really captures the depths of sorrow one can feel when love is lost. Although it has been many years, I can still remember the pain of losing my first love.

Lanuza’s poems explore the complexity of womanhood. She grapples with important issues that impact many girls and women, such as: appearance, body size, skin color, and what it means to grow into adulthood. Thoughts on the complexity of womanhood

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the recurring theme of the beauty of words. I can very much empathize with Lanuza’s longing for a bookish love.

My favorite piece in this collection was the poem in which the author wrestles with the question of when would be the appropriate time to tell her new significant other that she struggles with depression. Although my situation is different, I  experienced a similar internal struggle when I needed to decide when it would be the appropriate time to reveal my own complex medical history and my inability to have children to my fiancé.

Although the collection ends with a feeling of hopefulness, Lanuza refuses to close her book with a trite “happily ever.” She explains in a letter to the reader that some of these poems were taken from her chapbook, This is How It Starts. She tells the reader that although her chapbook had a happy ending, she realizes that life is far more complex than that. “You define what happily ever after means. It might change as you go about your way, and that’s okay.”

It was refreshing to remember just how big and life changing  it can feel to fall in love. I would recommend this book to fans of Young Adult and New Adult Literature. I know that Lanuza has written some YA romance novels as well and I am interested to read them.

Note: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for anhonest review.

(Trigger warning:  depression, suicidal ideations, disordered eating)

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Wnat more poetry? Lanuza’s work reminds me of another female poet I recently discovered, Lang Leav. CLICK HERE to read my review of Leav’s latest poetry book!

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