Official Review: Life's Harsh Reality

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esp1975
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Official Review: Life's Harsh Reality

Post by esp1975 »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Life's Harsh Reality" by Patrick L Washington.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Patrick L. Washington ends his book Life’s Harsh Reality with the following statement
Black Equality
Will never
have a place
Without justice first!
May God bless you
And keep you safe
From trouble.


This is an important sentiment and something I agree with completely. At the same time, I may have been the wrong person to review this book. I am a middle-aged, solidly middle-class, white woman. And while I think I should be in the target audience for this book, in that I think the point of it is to help white people understand the reality of life for black people in the United States, the non-standard (error filled?) use of the English language makes it really hard for me to connect to the message.

Life’s Harsh Reality starts with a prose section, introducing the readers to the main characters in the book and the inciting event of two overtly racist police officers shooting an innocent, young, black man. This prologue should be disruptive. It should be uncomfortable. But not because the author keeps going back and forth between past and present tense, or because there are so many grammatical and punctuation errors that it hurts the reader’s head.

If this had not been a fairly short book of poetry, I would have stopped reading before I was even through the prologue. I was spending too much time trying to make sense of the language instead of connecting to the message. At that point, I thought I would have to give the book a one star rating. Then I got into the poetry itself. The errors did not go away. But the emotion conveyed by the poetry connected with me. It was powerful.

This section from “Chapter 1, Babylon Benefactors” is actually what kept me reading (all grammar and punctuation issues are original to the material):
I tilted my head to the side
Hoping to digress my anger
sing the first line of the national anthem “O say can you see”
You glorify the white lies of the American dream
And make it seam
As if we were on a winning team”. . . .
And later in “Chapter 4, Conscientious Mind,” I felt this stanza more than I made sense of it:
God is my life
Bless with the experiences of heartbreak
Heartache
Living life in the shake
My story is real never fake
After a lot of consideration, I decided to give Patrick L. Washington’s Life’s Harsh Reality two out of four stars. The poetry has power to it, but I honestly cannot recommend this book to anyone other than an experienced poetry editor, who might be able to help the author keep the emotion and the rawness of the poetry while fixing the language so that it no longer disrupts the message.

******
Life's Harsh Reality
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Stephanie Elizabeth
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Post by Stephanie Elizabeth »

I think with another round of editing, this collection of poems could have great potential! Thanks for the honest review!

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Post by kandscreeley »

It sounds like the author has a good goal. It's too bad, though, that it's executed so poorly. It makes the message that at important extremely obscure. Since I'm not a fan of poetry to begin with, I'll skip this.
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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 »

@Stephanie Elizabeth - Yes, with a good editor, this could be really powerful

@kandscreeley - If you're not a poetry fan, it's a good one to skip. Thanks for stopping by.

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Post by Prisallen »

Poetry is not my first choice of books to read. Having said that, even if it was I don't think I would enjoy this book with all the errors. Thanks for an honest and interesting review!

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Post by Ekta Swarnkar »

I like reading poetry but not the one which requires editing. I think it will leave me with confusion. So this is not for me. Thanks for the great review!
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Post by Everydayadventure15 »

This one does sound like it would have a powerful message with some editing help. Thanks for the helpful review!

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Post by Y0landa »

It seems like there is a lot of heart in this book, as you were able to perceive through its poetry. I'm sure with proper editing, it could be very powerful! Thank you for your honest review.

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Post by spluficvictory »

I'm not really a fan of poetry, and certainly not the one filled with grammatical errors. I'm sure with a good editing from a professional, this book's message would be clearer. Thanks for the review 👍
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Post by sarahmarlowe »

"Then I got into the poetry itself. The errors did not go away. But the emotion conveyed by the poetry connected with me. It was powerful." I love that poetic license can allow authors to go beyond words and delve into emotions. That's fantastic. Perhaps some editing would allow the book to be open to a wider audience. You have an excellent, thorough review here!
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Post by djr6090 »

The first line in your review grabbed me. This must be what you meant when the poet's message became stronger than the language itself. Good review. I might take a look at this one.

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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 »

@Prisallen - Thanks for stopping by. And yeah, if you don't like poetry, there's no point in picking this up, as the power is all in the poetry.

@Ekta Swarnkar - The grammar/punctuation issues can be really hard to wrap your head around, so if the message of this poetry isn't speaking to you, it probably isn't worth trying to read.

@Everydayadventure15 - The message is definitely powerful. This might be the first book in a series. If so, I hope the author gets editing help soon.

@Y0landa - Thanks for commenting. The message definitely is powerful.

@spluficvictory - Thanks for stopping by and reading, even though this isn't your preferred genre.

@sarahmarlowe - Thanks for your kind words. This is why I love poetry; emotion is the most important part of the writing.

@djr6090 - If you do check it out, I hope you find the poetry as powerful as I did.

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tristenb
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Post by tristenb »

I don't really enjoy poetry, so I don't think I would enjoy the writing style of this book. However, the themes are important and perhaps after a round of editing this would be a must read for many people. It says a lot that you were aware that perhaps you weren't the best person to write the review. I'm glad you were able to look past the errors and see the power behind the poems. Thank you for your thoughful review!

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Post by LinaMueller »

It sounds like a classic case of a good idea that was not well executed. Great review as always, esp1975.
Heart! We will forget him!
You an I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me
That I my thoughts may dim;
Haste! lest while you're lagging.
I may remember him!

Emily Dickinson

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Post by rumik »

I think it's really commendable that you tried to put your own background aside to look at things from the perspective of this author. It's a real shame the book had so many errors, or I would've tried it too. Thanks for the detailed review as always!

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