The Woman I Kept to Myself – 4.5 Star Review

“Often I crack and poetry seals the crack.”

The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez

This autobiographical collection of poems was absolutely stunning. I loved Julia Alvarez’s writing style and how she structured and composed all her pieces. They flowed in a steady rhythm that easily immersed the reader into vivid imagery. She explores an array of topics which reflect the many aspects of life itself. Such as her passionate love affairs as well as her multiple divorces. 

The reader experiences her familial dynamic between her parents and sisters and their experience of being immigrants in the United States. The poems that showed the symmetry and struggle between opposing languages itself was breathtaking. Death, life, and loss were also themes throughout this collection and are areas that everyone can relate to. Alvarez weaves them in ways that express her utmost grief but then contrasts beautifully with her pieces that express the most vibrant hope. 

 Many of my favorites included her poems that drew heavy on naturalistic themes regarding plants and animals. A few poems then tied into her views and struggles with religion that were also artfully expressed and extremely thought provoking. I think that authors would find some comfort in this collection, because a lot of Julia’s life struggles were related to her obsession with writing and the self-doubt which creeps in on all artists. She doubts her value as a writer constantly, yet the passion she has for words on a page bleed through exquisitely.

Other topics a reader will experience in this collection are sexism, depression, physical health, and aging. One thing I didn’t love about the book was that the sequence of poems didn’t follow a smooth linear compilation, which I tend to favor. However, I think her method makes this autobiographical book that much more authentic since life happens in spurts and up and downs. I’d give this collection 4.5 stars!

Reviewed by Coco

“When I read a book I love, I fall in love with the author, I can’t help it, the voice even if centuries old pierces my heart.”

The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez

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