Book Review: “If I Just Look Hard Enough” by Aleah Dye

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “If I Just Look Hard Enough” by Aleah Dye! It’s been a while since I read a poetry collection, so it’s nice to pick one up again to read and review. I received a copy from Voracious Readers Only in exchange for an honest review! Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:

“_If I Just Look Hard Enough_ is a book of poetry that will stick with you. Aleah Dye captures the constant internal dialogue that we all have, veering from worries about the state of the world to the state of oneself. This collection is deeply personal while still remaining universal, allowing you to find yourself between the lines. _If I Just Look Hard Enough_ will force you to confront emotions that perhaps have not been touched in years; don’t be afraid to look.”

Though I don’t usually talk about the formatting of poetry collections, the copy I received for this review had black font against a dark green background. This made the entire collection very hard to read for me unless I significantly brightened the screen (I received a PDF copy), and I didn’t enjoy having to strain my eyes half the time while reading. I don’t know if this was intentional (the title of this collection is “If I Just Look Hard Enough,” after all, and I certainly looked very hard due to the awkward formatting) or if something wrong happened during the making of this copy. However, I didn’t appreciate this while reading, due to needing to take multiple breaks inbetween reading the poems due to such bad formatting.

There were some poems that didn’t make a lot of sense to me as a reader, despite the goal of universal feelings to be confronted in this collection, like Dinnertime At Grandma’s. I had the sense that, perhaps, the experience of having dinner at grandma’s house was supposed to be portrayed as negative throughout this poem, but I didn’t understand the use of vultures and butterflies within it. There were also other poems in this collections that set up certain emotions, but then an odd word choice or two would feel jarring to me as a reader and take me out of the mood of the poem, leaving me more confused than understanding the situation or attempted evocation of feelings in said poem.

However, there were also some poems that did make more sense to me as a reader and made an impact of portraying the emotions they were set up for. For instance, Falling Out Of Love was one of the more impactful poems to me as a reader through it depicting the speaker’s feelings (both physical and emotional) of heartbreak. However, given that the goal of this collection was to both be universal yet personal to to writer, as noted in the summary, I’m not quite sure if the whole collection achieved such a goal promised to me as a reader.

Overall, I’d rate this collection 3 out of 5 stars!

Had the formatting of this book made the collection more accessible for me to read, I think I would’ve been able to rate this higher than it currently is. I also think some poems missed the mark when it came to trying to evoke certain emotions due to odd word choices in some poems. However, there are some poems in there that do make an impact emotionally as a reader, and and it is worth reading overall—especially if the formatting gets fixed in the near future.

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