2 out of 4 stars
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No Judgement Allowed is a non-fiction book written and compiled by Antwanette Howard. It is a collection of the real life experiences of a young woman written in the form of poems and essays.
The author vividly narrates her struggle as a homeless woman. This coupled with her dream of wanting to live a good life and what she goes through while out in the cold makes for a chilling read. Some of the essays are written like journal entries and I couldn't help but count my blessings that on that particular day, I might have been whining about something minor in my life while someone somewhere had hit rock bottom and had nowhere to turn. This raw narration greatly enriches the book.
The themes of discrimination, racism, relationships, sexual orientation, drug abuse, education and pop culture are also well tackled. It is interesting to see the author give her viewpoints on matters of governance, police brutality and terrorism. I was especially baffled to discover that the author struggled to complete this book while she was homeless. I can't imagine anyone functioning normally while in that state, let alone publishing a book.
The writing style is free verse with a little rhyme infused. This perfectly captures the chaos in the author's life at that moment. She makes a point of mentioning the encounters she had with various people and the valuable lessons she learned from them. It is also refreshing that some of the verses sounded like sincere prayers. This adds an air of spirituality to the book. Although it is not clear how she came to be on the streets, this background information would have provided insight into her previous life.
The book itself is short, at 146 pages. I however had to pause reading while only a few pages in because there were already a number of typos, grammatical errors and the persona sounded like an angry woman on a rant. Unfortunately, this was consistent throughout the book. It is ironic that while the author proclaims her love for Jesus, swear words and profanity are used several times. There are also some double negatives in sentences which might turn off readers who aren't comfortable with street language. From the PDF copy I received, the whole book contained mirror pages which was inconvenient for me. Otherwise, I had no problem reading it when I switched to mobile view.
No Judgement Allowed is a book I would recommend to anyone who's in a bad place in life and anyone who doesn't mind being transported to a different world. In it's current state, I will rate this book 2 out of 4 stars and I hope it goes through a round of editing to make it more readable.
No Judgement Allowed
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