She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle by Lavinia Thompson
Review by Tony
Lavinia Thompson presents a book that isn’t meant to be read and enjoyed. Like Wintergirls, Crank, or Inexcusable, She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle takes the readers to the dark galleries of life. No one sits and reads these books and says “wow, I enjoyed that.” Rather, books on the harsh realities of life and the tragedy and trauma caused by mankind are written to expand our horizons and complete our perspective.
At least, that is the goal. In She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle, we see the effects of domestic abuse in free form poetry. Lavinia reveals to us at the end of the book that this is her story, and poetry became her sanctuary in a world that was proving ever-more cruel. Coming from a writing background, I found common ground with her in that writing is very therapeutic.
But, that’s about where the commonalities ended. Each section in the book begins with a journal entry, each something after her years of dealing with abuse where she is trying to regain a grip on her life. Then it goes into the poetry she wrote while dealing with domestic abuse and violence from her father. None of the poems had rhythm or diction, giving it a very Ellen Hopkins feel to each page.
The most difficult part about reading She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle was the use of imagery. The book felt raw and exposed, as books of this nature usually are, but imagery would shift in a single poem to mean two or three different things, each of which wasn’t entirely clear as to if it’s symbol or meaning was positive or negative. Trying to make sense of the ideas presented made the pages blur together for me.
The most enjoyable part of the book was also what could have been toned back and refined to make it an overall better read. It was raw, unrefined and undiluted for the public masses. It offered a personal look into a terribly common evil in first world society. Her word choice in multiple instances made the book intimate, like a fly on the wall to evil, feelings of revenge and hatred, and some feelings of recovery. However, this raw, unrefined look at a girl’s life in many cases made it confusing and difficult to understand. The flow at times felt clunky and unpracticed, while other times rushing the reader onwards.
As far as a rating goes, She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle lands a 2.5 out of 5, mostly because of the confusion that the poetry builds while trying to offer a personal escape. Novels of this nature are hard to write, and few are successful, and Lavinia Thompson has undertaken a big task to let her voice be known.
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