Cover Image: No Blanks, No Pauses

No Blanks, No Pauses

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Member Reviews

A phenomenal memoir mixed with poetry that was so beautiful. I think this was a masterclass on writing. It was incredibly poignant and I truly believe that everyone can learn something about themselves and life from this work.
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Shelly McNamara writes with honesty and bravery in a memoir that could be a mentor text for the genre. I appreciate this author's willingness to explore personal story in a public way.
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Very deep, moving and thought provoking

This stays with you for a long long time (probably forever).
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This book has touched me in ways few have. 

I just put this book down after reading it within a matter of hours. My one complaint is this: it should have been longer. 

This memoir, a combination of poetry and life stories is arguably one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Diving into themes of love, grief, family, equality, faith, and so much more, this book gave me a sense of peace that can only be described as "feeling like a hug". 

Though it was written by a lesbian, and the themes of being LGBTQ+ are prevalent in this book, I wouldn't limit this book to those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This book needs to be read by all. 

In the matter of hours in which I read this book I only put it down a handful of times, and every time I did I couldn't stop thinking about it. 
This is one of those books that is going to stay with me forever.
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Book 18 of my 2021 Reading Challenge

No Blanks, No Pauses
by Shelly McNamara

Summary (via NetGalley)
published 2021

Born the youngest of fifteen siblings in Lakewood, Ohio, Shelly McNamara began writing as a child to explore her inner self and make sense of the world around her. From the grief of losing close friends and family, the pain of estrangement and rejection, and a deep desire to make the world a more respectful, loving, and inclusive place, Shelly wrote poetry and stories of hope and strength. Writing helped her embrace her own identity while she waited for the world to recognize her lifelong commitment to the woman she loves and the family they built together. As the Chief Equality & Inclusion Officer at Procter & Gamble, one of the world's most admired companies, Shelly has used her powerful insights and compassion to elevate the consciousness and connection of people from around the globe. Now, for the first time, Shelly is bringing her poetry and powerful stories to us all.
No Blanks, No Pauses is an exploration of one woman's journey to live a full and authentic life that holds lessons for each of us. Shelly has written her way through adversity and heartbreak to discover that dreams are worth pursuing, injustice is worth challenging, and peace and fairness are what matter most. This book's mixture of memoir, poetry, and insightful questions draws us in and gives us confidence that we, too, can heal, connect, and love more expansively than we ever thought possible. 

First Impressions/Judging a Book by Its Cover
I chose this book on NetGalley (full disclaimer below).  The cover caught my interest because the photo of the house has an old-timey blurry feel and the description, a combination of memoir and poetry written by the youngest of 15 children, sounded interesting and unique.

My Opinion
5 stars

**I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley and would like to thank the author and/or publisher for the opportunity to read and honestly review it.**

This was definitely the right book at the right time for me.  I don't have a lot of focus or tolerance for suspense at the moment which is why I've been reading a lot of short stories and poetry.  This book was a good length with enough depth to keep it interesting but also a touch of "chicken soup for the soul" in how things work out.  

There were questions at the end of each story that acted as built-in reminders to stop and sit with the reactions for a minute.  It's a book of reflection if you want it to be but it's not forced down your throat if you don't.  It also isn't a religious book...she talks about her faith in the scope of her life but not as an end-all, be-all answer to everything.

She made a really interesting point about remaining in the closet.  She said staying closeted because you're concerned about their reaction/judgement is also a form of judgement because you're assuming how someone will react without giving them a chance.  She doesn't present it in a "Pollyanna" kind of way because we all know the world we live in and there are serious issues that could prevent someone coming out but more as something to think about if the reason is more fear-based than safety-based.
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"...How do you forgive someone
Who never apologized
For the pain
The suffering
The absence..."

No Blanks, No Spaces is part poetry and part memoir. The author's resilience in rising out of being the youngest of 15 children raised by a single mother to being the Chief Equality & Inclusion Officer at Procter & Gamble is nothing but admirable. The book is both comforting and motivating. 
I'm not one for memoirs but I enjoyed this blend of poetry with personal anecdotes. 
Love that the book talks about empathy and love quite substantially! 

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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Thank you Amplify Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book.

When I saw the genres, to be honest, I had a little bit of expectations of it to be more poetic. I tried to hard to get into the story because it really is a fascinating biography. The meaning of poetry to me is that it should drive the reader to expect more and to be fulfilled with something they cannot explain. Some of the poems were emotional and I could understand the pain of the writer. Especially the poem "Is it Time to Forgive" was an emotional one about acceptance and forgiving: 

"How do you forgive someone
Who never apologized
For the pain
The suffering
The absence"

Although there was a disconnection between the book and me, it has a great story about love and loving yourself but it is just an opinionated biography and that bit I really loved. It is about someone who is both hurting and seeking love in general. The thing is in the end I felt that McNamara was trying to engage with the reader through her words, trying to connect as a friend giving different approaches to situations she was listing, that happened in her life.
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I didn't like this book. There were parts I enjoyed, like some of the texts about the family dynamics and a few notes about the way the author experienced her lesbianism, but overall? It annoyed me. There are a lot of speeches I disagree with, such as the "to love someone else, you need to love yourself first" which... is just no, and the one about labels limiting people. It felt too black-and-white: I love labels, personally. They bring me comfort and I feel like they free me. The moments I didn't have labels I felt like I needed to look myself up in the dictionary, because I need it, and that's not something I want to change: whenever I feel like that, I just find the label I need; and I know many people who are this way, too. 
I'm aware this was probably not the intention, but I've had this same line about labels spoken to me in a condescending manner several times, and painting labels as some kind of villain or antagonist is something that annoys me. I'm a lesbian. I'm transgender. I'm nonbinary. And Brazilian, and genderqueer, and genderfluid, and polyamorous, and a writer. Those are labels too, and I like them, I feel embraced by them. Labels aren't good when they're forced upon you by others, but generalizing this can be harmful. I know it was (and it is!) for me, especially when related to mental illnesses. I've been looking for a diagnosis on a neurodivergence, most likely autism, because I have many traits/symptoms, but I've been told that labels aren't good and my mother and health doctors won't even tell me more about the assessment and all. 
I also found the use of ellipsis excessive, which annoyed me as well. And the use of the expression "less than". McNamara uses it several times to describe prejudice, that some people are seen as "less than". That was written so many times it annoyed me, especially because it wasn't necessary. Less than what? And if you're not gonna leave it explicit, there are words for that, such as "inferior". 
There's also something about the 'feel' of the book that didn't quite sit well with me. There are a lot of parts about forgiving: McNamara's absent father who left her mother to raise 15 children on her own, her best friend who got distant when she discovered McNamara's a lesbian, her brother, who had some homophobia in his way of thinking... Some did have redemption, some didn't, but Shelly never says she's ANGRY. She's hurt, or she forgives the person, or she just... accepts and loves people in an annoying kind of way. I'm probably being very judgemental, especially since she's a real person, not a character, but while I'm reading this book, she kind of is: I'm reading about the life of a person who isn't me, mostly in a poetic manner. I like books that I can resonate with. I like it when they're visceral, when they show the ugly and the shameful, when my heart's heavy. When it touches the depths of my soul. But this book is just... eh. 
Plus, there are a lot of parts about God, Christianity, the church, etc. and I don't like reading about it, as someone who has panic attacks every time I step on a church. So yeah, this book is totally not my thing.
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How frustrating is it to be told by all the different sources the things you must do to be successful in life? This book definitely does NOT do that. It instead takes an empathetic approach and gives bite size approaches and allows you to have kindness and patience with yourself when dealing with life. This is so necessary for everyone to read in life. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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