Upon diving into this book, I had an idea of what to expect simply based on the title. While it did follow along the premise of a young princess saving herself, it brought so much more to the table than just a feminist fairytale. The poetry invokes serious thought on injustice towards women regarding their appearance, while it also reaches out to ignite the spirits of young women with wise words of guidance. Not only that but the amount of nostalgia induced whilst reading this gem is something to be appreciated.
Personally, I found this poetry book — which is one continuous story, rather than a collection of unconnected poems — to be very relatable. Though I did not struggle with an eating disorder growing up, the words describing the pain were still undeniably identifiable.
The poems are broken up into four chapters: “the princess”, “the damsel”, “the queen”, and “you”. Within the first chapter, “the princess”, the speaker shares her story, and how she dealt with issues often found in the lives of young girls, such as low self-esteem issues, bullying, and best friend drama. However, she also deals with other heavier issues, such as an eating disorder — anorexia, specifically, — a self-harming addiction, an alcoholic mother, and rape. Through her descriptions of these devastating events and her everlasting thoughts on them, a fully developed character is created and you feel as if you truly know her as a real person. You can relate to her as she forces you to relive your own childhood memories — insecurities, misunderstandings, and all.
Something I found to be amusing was how the speaker would struggle between whether she wanted to refer to herself as “the princess” or as “i”. Each time she would write “the princess”, for example, she would strike a line through it and write “i” next to it. She does the same thing with “the queen” and “her mother”.
This reveals the transformity of her past self into a princess, but also shows the reluctance she carries within her to fully embrace that commonly stereotypical role. Her hesitation to acknowledge herself as a princess can be interpreted in two different ways: either she considered herself a princess, locked away in her tower as they usually are, while she was growing up and now sees that she was so much more than that, or she is nervous to call herself a princess because she feels undeserving of the high esteem it might entail.
Either way, in the next chapter, it is implied that she became a damsel in distress when she handed her heart over to boys, who then became “dragons” in her life when they left her heartbroken. Things become even darker when the speaker’s mother is diagnosed with cancer and suddenly her healthy older sister dies about a month before her mother.
Taking the next few pages to grieve, she then claims that these tragic life-changing moments did not make her a better person. Yet, in the following pages, she acknowledges that she would not have been who she is today without the “inspiration behind [her] demons” (85). Whether or not the metamorphosized person she is now is a better version of her past self, it is ultimately left to the reader to decide what to make of it. It puts the reader in this place where they must question, “do horrible things really happen for a reason? And if so, are they always for good reasons? Do our struggles really make us stronger?” I admired the amount of contemplation this book triggers, for the answers are meant to be concluded, or at least considered, by the reader, as it leaves them in this white space of introspective thought.
The following chapter, “the queen”, is where the speaker says that the princess finally learned how to save herself. In the last chapter, the speaker talks directly to her readers by advising us to read as much as we can and to write our stories. The speaker finishes off her lovely book by offering words of advice for women: that they need to love themselves no matter what and not let the world make them turn cold or depressed.
While reading this book, you sort of feel like you’re reading someone’s private journal. There is an obvious lack of capitalization in this book, which creates the sort of vibe that everything is free from order and rules, while at the same time applying an innocent and child-like feel to the text. Though it is not always clear whom the speaker is talking to or about in certain stanzas, it is understandably a way to allow the reader to interpret it freely and perhaps even personally. The poems are presented in a rant-like style, with little to no transition from one idea or story to the next. Though this sometimes caused quite a bit of confusion, it still flowed as an endless stream of consciousness, as if the reader were inside the speaker’s mind.
On every page, the speaker makes comments in italics that are essentially her commentary on the stanza above. For example, upon recalling the moments when people called her “fat” as a child, she creates her own definition for the term in the following page that reads, “a descriptive word,/ it has no deeper meaning./ it should not determine/ the worth/ …of a human being,” (18). Following the stanza, it says, “– what i know now that i wish i knew then” in italics. Not only can you compare who she was then versus who she is now, but you can also see the development and how it was what she went through that made her who she is now. The speaker had to learn to understand, accept, and be strong, and it transformed her into a queen.
Amanda Lovelace brings reality to her poetry and adds touches of beautiful thoughts and encouraging verses. She delivered inspiring metaphors, such as “& i went/ ahead/ & painted/ the sun/ back into/ my sky,” (118). This story is heartbreaking and will most likely make you cry, but it tells an endearing story of a young girl who learned to save herself and write her own happy ending, even after all the terrible moments she had to endure in her life. Whether you’re someone who likes reading poetry or not, this self-help poetry book tells a tale that most can familiarize with, regardless of gender, and one that many can be inspired by as well.
Amanda Lovelace is a poetess and author currently residing in New Jersey. The Princess Saves Herself In This One was published in April by CreateSpace. Grab a copy at your local bookseller or order it online.