Essays, Memoir/Autobiography, Nonfiction, Poetry

Dandelion by Gabbie Hanna

Follow up to Adultolescence

I’m not a bit poetry person, and I didn’t entirely love Gabbie’s style in Adultolescence, I did relate to the content. When I saw the digital advance copy come through, and then saw how many people were hate-rating Dandelion on Goodreads before having access to it, I realized that it was my responsibility as a bookseller to be able to read it an offer an honest opinion. I meant to write this pre-pub, but time slipped away in October, so better late than never.

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
New York Times bestselling author Gabbie Hanna delivers everything from curious musings to gut-wrenching confessionals in her long-awaited sophomore collection of illustrated poetry.
In this visually thrilling installment of the inner-workings of Gabbie’s mind, we’re taken on a journey of self-loathing, self-reflection, and ultimately, self-acceptance through deeply metaphorical imagery, chilling twists on child-like rhymes, and popular turns of phrase turned on their heads. Through raw, provocative tidbits, Dandelion explores what it means to struggle with a declining mental health in a world where mental health is both stigmatized and trivialized. The poems range from topics of rage and despair to downright silliness, so if you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, just laugh until you cry.
This edition includes a collection of uncomfortably honest personal essays about Gabbie’s childhood and relationships.

Review

My review of Adultolescence is more glowing than I remember it being, probably because after sitting and thinking about it, I over-connected with Gabbie and didn’t empirically assess her poetry. I have come to this conclusion now, because compared to Dandelion, Adultolescence kind of sucks. A lot. It’s content is relateable to us millennials, but it’s at times trite and has become clear, on rereading and looking at other’s opinions, that Gabbie’s heart wasn’t entirely in it.

Must celebrities are approached by publishers, not the other way around. While most poets work for years to hone a small volume of roughly 100 pages of high quality poems, Gabbie’s two books clock in at over 550 pages together. 550 pages of roughly one poem every other page (because of illustrations), there’s no way they would all be super high quality given the rate at which Adultolescence must have been written. Gabbie even admits this herself, that she was writing to fill pages at one point, and it showed.

However, in Dandelion, she took her time and it shows. Three years of honing her writing between Adultolescence and Dandelion is obvious – the quality is much higher and the content is far more personal and less pedantic. As a reviewer, too, my own knowledge of poetry and appreciation for it has changed. We hired a young man at the book store who is our resident poetry expert who has been teaching me to appreciate and not loathe poetry.

Gabbie’s new poems are thoughtful and confessional. They are deeply personal and resonate on a whole new level with readers than the surface commiseration of millennial life from Adultolescence. Gabbie also finishes the book with a series of essays going into greater depth with her family, childhood, and romantic life. The essays were, for me, what ultimately made the book cross from decent poetry to must-read book.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon. Click the image below to add the book to your Goodreads TBR!

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