This review is so, soooooooo long overdue; I won Here I Stand sometime in 2017 in a Twitter giveaway & it took me a long time to read as I picked it up & put it down whenever I felt like it! Here I Stand is a book full mainly of poems & short-stories that all “Speak for Freedom” & it’s a book full of emotion & empowerment.
This book contains details of a number of scenarios that may cause upset to the reader; please go into this book knowing that the topics covered are not simple ones & please ensure you have some tissues on standby. Examples are terrorism, sexual assault, suicide & human trafficking.
As this book is packed full of different pieces of literature I’m only going to talk very briefly about a few of the features that really got to me emotionally; some of them are short stories, whilst others are poems, but each of them made me cry. Reviewing every chapter of this book would be pointless & you’d definitely get bored of my ramblings, but I’m hoping these few snippets will convince you to go & buy yourself a copy of this book.
Harvester Road by John Boyne (pg. 10)
Harvester Road is the first chapter of Here I Stand & it focuses on 6 different people who all live on the same road; Damien aged 8, Rachel aged 14, Melissa aged 26, Justin aged 34, Joseph aged 92 & Stephan aged 32. The chapter includes a few paragraphs from each character’s points of views & talks of their everyday struggles – all of the characters are connected by one type of struggle though, & their stories become very difficult to read, despite the chapter only being 21 pages long. The final character, Stephan, provides the reader with some reassurance but the chapter is still chilling & powerful.
Dulce et Decorum Est by Chibundu Onuzo (pg. 22)
The second chapter in the book is about an African, female lawyer working with a young black teenager that got himself caught up in a robbery; in my notes I wrote that I could have read a whole book about Derebo & her day-to-day work… the chapter was sad, even more so because I’m sure the ending of the chapter is representative of what happens for a lot of teens that get themselves in trouble with the law.
Love Is A Word, Not A Sentence by Liz Kessler (pg. 50)
This is probably the chapter I related to most out of the whole book; it’s presented in the form of a letter from one teenage girl to another. Jess, the writer, is questioning Gabby, her best friend, about certain events that have taken place throughout their friendship. Ultimately, the chapter shows that sometimes the people we’re closest to are the ones that hurt us the most. This chapter really made me cry.
Darling by Amy Leon (pg. 66)
I was going to include the whole poem in my review but I changed my mind & only copied out the first stanza; this poem was one that really spoke to me & it’s one I think should be up in all classrooms.
School of Life by Elizabeth Laird (pg. 108)
School of Life is a short story about trafficking – something that breaks my heart even at the mention of it. When I was reading this story I knew that it would be reflective of dozens of real-life stories & I just couldn’t help but cry. These things happen on a daily basis & it’s just so awful.
Redemption by Ryan Gattis (pg. 126)
The criminal justice system is something that I studied for a while at university, & I even wrote an essay on whether imprisonment can cure offending, so this chapter interested me greatly. Ryan Gattis really makes you think in this chapter – is there a really a fair, humane & justice-providing way to deal with murderers?
Black/White by Amy Leon (pg. 182)
Black/White is a poem that presents scenarios that are fundamentally different, due to rules of society, depending on whether a person is black or white. It’s one I would like to get printed & framed.
This is only part of the poem.
So, I’ve only included short paragraphs on 7 out of the 27 sections that are included in the book; but I hope that these 7 have given you some insight into what Here I Stand is about & that you’re now considering having a look through this book yourself. This is a great book to ask your library to order in, but if you’d like your own copy you can order one using the links below: if you use the Amazon.co.uk or Book Depository links to make a purchase I will receive a small fee at no cost to you, so please consider doing so.
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Waterstones | Wordery
Unfortunately, this title is not currently available on Audible.