‘milk and honey’ drips with rave reviews as summer must-read

“milk and honey” by Rupi Kaur has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 31 weeks. Kaur discusses survival and healing in poetic prose with each of the four sections in her book. The book has garnered much attention on social media, but it is up to readers to decide its true worth. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

Megan Rule | Opinion Editor

You’ve seen it all over Twitter and Instagram, the notorious couple of lines with line breaks that seem random with words that are never capitalized. The book ‘milk and honey’ by Rupi Kaur has garnered quite the social media rumble with people arguing seriously for or against its poetic impact. As a classic example of crowd psychology, the social media attention has led people who don’t normally pick up poetry books to give this one a whirl.

The book is powerful, brutally honest and can be triggering for those who have gone through some of the same experiences as Kaur. Kaur speaks on topics ranging from toxic relationships to self-confidence issues. It can be graphic and is definitely intended for a more mature audience. In addition to the short, choppy sentences, there are drawings that sometimes don’t leave much to the imagination—don’t let your middle school child read it. However, putting aside my inner grammar-geek’s irritation that I felt while reading incomplete, un-capitalized sentences, I was very moved by this collection of poems. And yes, I would consider them poems, contrary to the arguments that others have made.

The themes are way too relevant in today’s world and the stories that Kaur tells elicit extreme emotions I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. Kaur splits the book into four sections – the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. My personal favorite was the healing because the self-empowerment and self-love that Kaur found was so moving. Each section captures the female empowerment movement that has spread wildly over the past few years, and balances the raw pain with beautiful compassionate feelings. The book seeks to relate to the struggles of many young women and their fight the survive. Although it is difficult to analyze the book as a whole, each poem is complex and touching in its own way.

Kudos to Kaur for putting herself out there for the world to criticize and poke at; the stories and topics are a definite source of vulnerability. The book was best read when I put myself in the storyline and allowed myself to feel the pain and love that Kaur felt throughout the book. Although the choppiness is different and a little annoying compared to normally reading full sentences, readers should fully immerse themselves in the book to get the most out of it. It is complex, yet full of power to hit you where it really hurts. I wouldn’t say the book as a whole is something to rave about, but the honesty and emotion that the author poured into each page are what makes this book something exquisite to talk about.