Saturday 10 August 2019

5* BOOK REVIEW | '"I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour' by gal-dem

Hey guys, and happy Saturday! I know it's been a while since I've written on here but trust me, bigger and better things will be coming your way soon...

In the meantime, though, what better way to come back on my blog than to review a truly excellent and powerful book, to start your weekend off with a bang?! Today I will be reviewing I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem, which is a bloody amazing online and print magazine created by women and non-binary people of colour. I Will Not Be Erased is a collection of essays by gal-dem's writers, which explore growing up as POC, and reflect on their experiences with tender, touching hindsight. 

Many thanks to gal-dem and Walker Books for kindly sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays from gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem's writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to explore growing up. gal-dem have been described by the Guardian as "the agents of change we need", and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.

Whilst I am clearly not the target audience for this book (being a cis, hetero, white woman for those who don't know the face behind the blog!) I was completely taken in with the gorgeous writing inside this book. I love personal essays, and each essay in this book had its own treasure that I felt very fortunate to be able to explore. Although it would be wrong of me to say I could relate to every experience in this book, I believe it is really important to submerge yourself in other people's experiences (especially as a cis, hetero, white person) as told by themselves, and not written by, say, other cis, hetero white people. The fact that these personal essays included snippets from the writers' childhood diaries, poems and online messages made the whole experience so much more poignant for me. 

I thought all of the essays were brilliant, but there were a few that particularly stood out for me: '"You Speak Well for a Black Girl": Black is who You Are' by Niellah Arboine, 'My Cousin Medyaï' by Kuchenga and 'The lesson of Dance School: The Dream that Wasn't a Dream' by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff. The illustrations in the book that accompany the essays are as beautiful as the writing... the drawings convey so much joy, and for me represent what the whole book is really about: celebrating POC, taking up as much space as possible, space that for so long has been reserved for a select few.

Reading these essays were such a rich experience, and it was a huge priviledge to read them. It made me reflect a lot on my life growing up, and the people I knew surrounding me, and how I had a totally different experience to maybe, some of the girls in my West London school. I had within me and surrounding me so much priviledge that I didn't even recognise, let alone appreciate. Thank you, writers of gal-dem, for this extraordinary book. 

Buy I Will Not Be Erased here.

Check out gal-dem here.

Until next time :)