I was kindly provided with an e-arc of this book via NetGalley.
Nineteen is a collection of poetry that broaches heartbreak, love, loss, war, peace, and healing.
For every place we go, there is a feeling or memory that’s been painted on the walls. You can paint over it, but it will always be there. Even if you can’t see it, you know.
You can feel the heartbreak inside the bedroom where you lost a love.
You can feel the hope at the coffee shop where a beginning happened.
You can feel the healing as you sit in the driver’s seat, in charge of your own life.
Nineteen by Makenzie Campbell is a poetry collection that focuses around heartbreak and healing. There are six chapters within the collection that all focus on different themes, but all together tell the story of how she overcame this breakup and her journey of self-care and self-love.
The first chapter is called ‘Bedroom’. Campbell really captures the heartbreak and loss after a break up. She touches on the memories and photographs she had with the other person really grasping at the pain and loss of all aspects of her life. The parts no one thinks about of a broken relationship until some time passes. There’s a battle of losing who she is because she’s unsure of who she is anymore outside of the relationship. There’s a poem that is about her losing herself piece by piece and these two lines are really striking to me:
‘There’s nothing worse than watching youself
unravel in s l o w m o t i o n .’
There is also this idea, that starts in this chapter but is heavily focused on throughout all of the chapters and the rest of the book, that you feel worthless after a breakup. She describes it at one point where she feels empty and broken and can’t find reason or a path to move on. I think it’s a really interesting take and an authentic one too.
The next chapter is ‘The Car (Passenger)’ where the feeling like you’re not in control is overwhelming. Campbell describes throughout this chapter the idea of knowing better but falling back to old habits. There’s one poem in particular that really shows this:
‘I have wasted too many years picking daises, plucking the “He loves me” and “He loves me not” from them.
But I know the second he reappears in my life I’ll waste too many more.’
She knows it is not worth her time, knows that it isn’t proactive or helping anyone, but she knows she is going to carry on making those mistakes.
It goes back to the overall theme for the chapter that there’s a feeling off not being in control. She’s not in control of her feelings or how she handles them. There’s also this idea/belief throughout the chapter whereby she feels tricked or fooled into feelings. That the other person in this relationship is void of emotions and is actively trying to hurt you. I think this is a common ‘step’ in a breakup and Campbell portrays this well.
Chapter three is called ‘The Shower’ and it feels as if the water has jolted her awake slightly. She speaks about how she feels almost blindsided; she can’t believe she confused selfish acts for selfishness acts. Later on she starts talking to herself:
Don’t you want a happy ending?
You won’t find it like this.
The chapter shows that she’s starting to realise she needs to let go – her ex-partner didn’t treat her nicely and she is finally admitting this; however she is still not in a position where is is changing. I feel that this is an authentic step: she recognises the issues and knows what to do to fix it but she isn’t quite ready to implement the changes yet.
‘The Park’ is where we get some poems that question societies views on women – one poem points out the differences on how a boy losing his virginity often leads to celebrations whereas girls losing their virginity often leads to disappointment. There are also poems that point to how beauty standards are just widely accepted and pushed by magazines or online platforms and often they don’t represent a wide proportion of women. I really liked and enjoyed this section as I feel strongly about these issues, so it was nice to see these issues discussed within the context of feeling worthless. Campbell also discusses how sometimes you lose youself in other people’s opinions and stop valuing yourself:
‘When did others’ perception of you become more
important than your own opinion?‘
The final two chapters are where we explore her new relationship with her. She has worries and fears that she ultimately gained after the failure of the relationship before, but they’re affecting this new relationship. Throughout the two chapters, we explore how she navigates these to form a healthier and more loving relationship both with her new partner and with herself too.
Nineteen by Makenzie Campbell is a full cycle poetry collection where we experience a failure of a relationship and the aftermath affects on mental health through growing and changing to be better for the next relationship to keep it healthy. Overall, I did enjoy this collection. I did feel like it was written well and the topics were impactful. However, I felt like there was nothing that I hadn’t seen before. I would recommend this poetry collection. 4/5 stars.