2 out of 4 stars
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I love poetry. Poetry is how my fiance and I met, and it's such a powerful way to express deep, emotional points in a page, a few stanzas or even a few words. So when I came across Silent Thoughts by R. Rose I was especially intrigued - this isn't a poetry collection, it's a collection of short pieces on themes ranging from trust in God to the pain of a lost love. I was intrigued by what kinds of emotions Rose would spill on the 190 pages of this book, and happily dove in.
The book isn't technically broken into categories or clearly split with any themes or forms of writing, but it does weave some repeated themes throughout the book. In addition to trust in God and the pain of a lost love, as mentioned previously, Rose also covers resisting sin (particularly lust), relationship issues and many other topics. She also has a fondness for using God's creatures and flowers as metaphors, and above all else it's clear that she definitely spills her emotions throughout these pages.
This is part of why I'm so sad to report that I just never found a piece that blew me away. Every time I found a piece that I thought would be the one, the piece that would be 100% awesome from beginning to end, it ended up somehow falling flat by the end. The majority of these pieces are still formatted like poems, with a sentence per line, but then often one of the last few lines would be a paragraph or an extra-long sentence that kills the flow. Even if these aren't poems, some amount of precision with words is expected, so when lines are bulky and slow it drags a piece down.
That isn't to say that there aren't some great parts of pieces, though. In "The Green Sea Turtle & The Little Flower Girl", the titular little girl finds herself "fun sized waves", which seems like a cute way to say smaller waves meant just for her (much like fun sized candy is smaller candy). In "Fruits & Vegetables", she says "The water boiling and simmering, an atomical song of molecules moving around violently". This is a really gorgeous way to cover both the art and science of cooking! I still ended up with a list of 12 pieces that I enjoyed, and there were probably 20 or so I enjoyed enough to consider 3 out of 4 stars, but there was only a single piece that I'd give a full 4 stars. The poem is called "A Living Contradiction", and it ends with the line "Just breathing is a double-edged sword." It's only five lines and yet it's such a punch in the gut, even though it still could've been touched up a tiny bit.
I also really wish there was more variety to the pieces in this book. In poetry collections, poets play with format, they toy with rhyme and meter, and they dance with metaphors. A good poetry collection mixes up not only the themes, it mixes up the way the poems are written. While these aren't poems, I still expected Rose to play with the way pieces were constructed, and I found only a handful of types. Some were formatted like poems, and some were more like journal entries. Others still did both, using both full paragraphs and single lines. But I would've loved more variance in the methods! 190 pages, with pieces averaging between 1-2 pages, is a lot of opportunity to do some unique things.
I would rate this book 2.5 stars if I could from averaging all the individual pieces together, but I also have to take into consideration around 30 grammatical errors. Many of these are similar: not using an apostrophe in a possessive noun and using "wither" instead of "whether", for example. Between this and the fact that I find myself having a really hard time recommending this collection to anyone, I'm settling on 2 out of 4 stars. Rose has potential, and it was definitely brave of her to put herself out there like this. I also loved that she wove some of the topics that are common in poetry collections with her love of God, both in hard times and in good times, and tried something new with these pieces. But these aren't enough to make me recommend the book without multiple truly fantastic pieces. If you like poignant writing but don't like poetry, and especially if you've suffered the loss of a significant other and have faith in God, you may still find some enjoyment here.
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