Light Filters In: Poems

illus. by Yelena Bryksenkova. 224p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2018. Tr ISBN 9780062844682.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Kaufman initially shared her poetry on Instagram as a means of catharsis. The poems here are raw and, as the poet acknowledges, sometimes repetitive as she seeks again and again to make sense of where her sunny childhood cut off and the cloud of mental illness descended. Yet the repetition by no means defines the verse, nor makes it less powerful, but rather underlines the resiliency required for her journey. The poems, paired with spare, yet evocative drawings by Bryksenkova, address self-harm, scarring early sexual encounters, internal conflict over the need to medicate, and many other realities of mental illness for teens. Kaufman's willingness to share and artfully articulate her vulnerability has already proved vitally important for the legions of followers she's garnered as an "Instapoet," and will now prove similarly validating and empowering for those teens who discover her work through print. This collection is an auspicious debut and while the verse will speak truth to stressed teens, even a short dip into Kaufman's online presence shows evidence of an important voice well beyond the realm of this collection.
VERDICT Undoubtedly, Kaufman's readers—new and old—will be clamoring for more. A top addition to YA poetry collections.

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