The collection’s power is in its accessibility. Epigraphs from household names like Taylor Swift and Kristen Stewart, plus celebrated queer poet Ocean Vuong, gather readers into a space of familiarity, and illustrator Sarah Rose Glickman’s jagged, floral line drawings offer a gentle visual element to Bendheim’s poetry that draws readers deeper into the poet’s narrative and the shape of her yearning. No two coming-out stories are alike, but Bendheim’s inviting concrete and conversational style (“You Knew First” opens with “In eighth grade, / you ask me who the most beautiful girl in the world is.”) allows for a friend-confidant dynamic to develop between author and reader that increases in intimacy as the collection follows life into adulthood.
As this memoir in verse demonstrates, Bendheim had no guidebook to queerness and coming out; she had to figure it out, facing rejection, heartbreak, and longing, alone. Through her suffering, she was able to emerge, self-actualized, into the most authentic version of herself. In “Desire Lines,” the speaker defines desire lines as paths made by those “architectural rebels” who don’t follow paved walkways, who are unafraid to ruin the grass. By the end, Bendheim reveals that coming out is becoming “no longer afraid of a little dirt.”
Takeaway: Achingly poignant poems charting a coming-out journey.
Comparable Titles: Michelle Tea’s “Oh God," June Jordan’s “Poem for Haruko," Audre Lorde’s “Movement Song.”
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A