The first time I wrote about Milk & Honey was in the first ever edition of my Wishlist series, which you can read by clicking here. There was much hype surrounding the book, the implications and meanings of the poetry and almost every female within a 30 mile radius had this book in hand. Shortly after writing my wishlist post, I actually went on to buy the book. I’ve had it for a few months now, and read and re-read it I would say over ten times. I have completely fallen in love with Kaur’s prose, but I didn’t want to write a post on the book until I felt completely compelled to: until I understood the meanings and intentions behind her work, and until I felt like I could do the book justice. I think the time has come!
Firstly, I want to comment on the appearance of the book, how beautiful is the cover? I suppose it’s arguable that the book itself doesn’t affect the content: ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ etc, but it just looks so super pretty on my bookshelf. It had a matte black cover which feels so luxurious, and the monochrome colour scheme with a hint of honey-gold is both appropriate and gorgeous. I know it doesn’t affect the skill of Kaur’s words and the effect they have on the reader, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a beautiful, well constructed book.
While on the topic of appearance, I’d also like to comment on the illustrations of the book. They aren’t the epitome of art; they aren’t super detailed, but they are functional, simple, and through this, become skilful and almost beautiful. The way in which the images seem to be hand-drawn almost with a ballpoint pen, makes the words even more relatable to everyday life, makes the pages adaptable to your own personal situations. Much like her words, the images are so simple that they take on their own beauty.
But now for the actual book itself: the ‘poetry.’ I quote the word ‘poetry’ because I’m not sure how far to argue that Kaur’s words do classify in this genre. Of course, the words themselves are not a novel, they do not progress into a storyline of such, but they do not seem to follow a metric, they do not form a conventional form of poetry. I’ve read much critique of Kaur’s work because of this, but isn’t this what makes the book unique, beautiful? The simplicity of her words and the uncomplicated nature of the structure, for me, is what makes the book so special. She is unapologetically brutal, she doesn’t miss a beat, and she talks of her themes with the utmost candour. For this, I have the utmost respect for Rupi Kaur. Anyone who is planning on reading this book should be aware of triggering topics such as sexual abuse and rape, topics of which she is very frank about. Her frankness and openness about such topics, are what make her a bold and incredible writer.
The book is split into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing. It becomes almost a process; a cycle that I’m sure every woman has experienced or will experience at least once in her life. I love every part just as much as each other but I would say that The Healing is my favourite, it’s both empowering and reassuring. Below I have left some of my favourite quotes from each section. I fully recommend purchasing this book and giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed.
‘A daughter should not have to beg her father for a relationship’ (28)
‘I was made heavy: half blade and half silk, difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow’ (30)
‘the thing about having an alcoholic parent is an alcoholic parent doesn’t exist, simply an alcoholic who could not stay sober long enough to raise their kids’ (39)
‘you tell me quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful, but I was not made with a fire in my belly so I could be put out’ (30)
‘I want to be so complete I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire’ (59)
‘You might not have been my first love but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant’ (63)
‘you look like you smell of honey and no pain, let me have a taste of that’ (66)
‘how do you turn a forest fire like me so soft I turn into running water’ (65)
‘don’t mistake salt for sugar: if he wants to be with you he will, it’s that simple’ (85)
‘I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself’ (95)
‘I am a museum full of art but you had your eyes shut’ (100)
‘I had to leave, I was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole’ (107)
‘You cannot leave me and have me too, I cannot exist in two places at once – when you ask if we can still be friends’ (136)
‘Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself’ (153)
‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise’ (156)
‘fall in love with your solitude’ (161)
‘your body is a museum of natural disasters, can you grasp how stunning that is?’ (173)
‘the world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that’ (185)
2 thoughts on “Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur”
That was a great review, Grace. The lines are poetry, because if you think of it, does poetry have to follow a metre, rhythm… it has to reach out to the reader and convert the person who loves prose to read her book. Not many modern poets woo me but I shall look out for her work.
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I couldn’t agree more, her poetry has come to mean a great deal to me and I am a huge fan!
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