Review by Claire Hersom
by Aracelis Girmay
321 Jackson Street
Williamantic, CT 06226
Aracelis Girmay begins her book with a quote by Elizabeth Alexander, “Many things are true at once,” and this is certainly what the reader will experience within these pages. While it sounds innocuous enough, make no mistake–-many parts of this book are difficult to read. Girmay tells a hard truth of act and place, voice and soul. Her work will take you into the heart of gross inhumanities, into the horrors of a world with acts so atrocious both physically and spiritually that the soul must fly away instead of endure, souls like those at Darfur. Just as profoundly, Girmay has the ability and the generosity to combine the other side of that same truth–“Many things are true at once”–in a simple fact of physics: for everything there is an equal and opposite force. In this case, she writes the truth of human courage, resilience, hope and transcendence.
The themes of despair and hope are mirrored throughout the book, dividing it into sections that address three core themes: global family, intimate family, and global love. Section by section, she separates the themes once again, into atrocity, loss and suffering, transcendence of the human spirit, and finally love and celebration. In Section V, …monologue of the heart pumping blood, she is wildly inspirational and uplifting. Here she wraps the reader closer and closer into universal truth: In as much as we are all different, we are also completely the same.