Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“But sometimes we aren’t pretending, sometimes we don’t remember.”
It’s been a while since I’ve read any poetry and I definitely feel like I’ve picked up the best book here to get me back into it! I say this is poetry, but it’s equally a memoir, focusing on the author’s fascinating story in such a powerful way. I’m so happy to be able to share my review for this unforgettable journey ahead of its release next year, a book I’ll be returning to again and again.
This I Can Tell You walks in through the front door and looks under the sofa. It measures the length of the wall, taps to find the beams. It removes the hammer and the nails from the toolbox, places them in a line to find the difference. This is a poetic narrative that examines structures within a home. It navigates Spering’s muffled timeline due to the fragility of memory as a result of trauma and the secrecy maintained within a family, like a well-groomed dog.
The first thing I thought of when beginning this poetic memoir was just how very real and filled with emotion everything seemed. I loved how the author’s childhood is portrayed and how family also plays a big part. The memories here are so vivid and almost felt like we were pulled into a whole new life, feeling everything the author feels and experiencing everything first hand. It was really quite surreal! We’re given an inside look at a number of insecurities which can be very relatable to many, and get detailed descriptions of family members, which I felt was the perfect introduction. The more the text picked up pace, it filled with intense emotion, and I found my eyes wanting to read further than my brain could process. Each sentence is put together so beautifully, each scene grips you unlike anything you’ve experienced, and I felt as though I just needed to continue reading. It takes a lot of talent to do that to a reader.
“I tend to point my finger a lot in my stories, but I’m trying to stray away from that. I’m just introducing you all to each other.”
This book was such a creative way of telling the author’s story, not just in the words the author uses, but also in how the words and sentences are used on each page. I loved how the amount of words on a page effortlessly added more emphasis and meaning, and it really drew me into what was being explained. I was particularly drawn to the author’s description of her grandfather’s passing and the awful incident, some of the things from this book that will stick with me the most. We hear of the trials and tribulations of the author’s family, some quite painful and unexpected, but something that I just couldn’t seem to get enough of. The whole thing was consistently interesting and I loved how it seemed to effortlessly draw me in. It felt as though we really get into the deepest cracks of the author’s brain, and I quickly became so grateful for how much detail the author gives us. It really is something else, and I’ll certainly cherish this honesty.
“The forms that stand in absence are the forms hidden by the shadow of a hole.”
It soon becomes clear that this family have been though a lot and suffered more than most. The more we learn, the more I wanted to learn, but I just hoped we’d hear some brighter news for this family, a family I was getting to know better page by page. I loved how the author tells us about her life exactly as it is without dancing around the facts or attempting to soften the blow – everything we learn builds up the bigger picture and is needed for this account of events to work well and to be incredibly memorable. The further I read, the more surprised I was at just how much the author’s words stirred emotions in me that I didn’t expect to be disturbed, and I was often surprised with a somewhat overwhelming feeling. Even though I was shocked with how I was feeling, this was nothing compared to the pain and numbness the author feels here. I have such deep admiration for her for sharing her most intimate details of life, not only to share her story, but to ensure others don’t go through these things alone.
“It would not have been the first time he fought for his life, metaphorically and physically. I always wondered where he got his scars.”
By the end of the book, tears were rolling down my cheeks and I’d developed that little bit more gratitude for life. The whole book has been written so well, and I appreciated the change in pace from beginning, to middle, to end – it was quite a unique reading experience, and something that I did not expect to be quite so good! We get to know the author’s father so well by the end of the book, even after the trauma and hardships she’s had to endure throughout her life. Description and vocabulary just screams talent, and you can get a perfect sense of how the author has felt all her life. Spering has portrayed every thought, every feeling so well, and I really wish I could experience this for the first time again. However, saying that, I’m confident it will have the same affect on me when I do read it again! I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t give this book the five stars it deserves – incredible!
Spering combines poetry and memoir immaculately, and creates an unforgettable journey with a unique sense of elegance and poignancy. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of poetry, this book gives you the best of both worlds and takes you on an emotional ride you’ll be dying to experience again and again. I was completely blown away by the author’s talent and also her bravery for writing about something so tragic and something so close to home. I don’t think I’ll get over this one for a while! Beautifully written until the very end, I’ll be recommending this one far and wide. I feel so grateful to have experienced something so brilliant!
A huge thank you to the author, Brandi Spering, and Perennial Press for my copy of this book to read and review! You can pre-order your own copy of This I Can Tell You over on the Perennial Press website, from January 21st 2021, available March 21st 2021. Make sure you’re following the author over on Instagram for more updates!