Cover Image: Girls That Never Die

Girls That Never Die

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Member Reviews

From the Publisher:
In Girls That Never Die, award-winning poet Safia Elhillo reinvents the epic to explore Muslim girlhood and shame, the dangers of being a woman, and the myriad violences enacted and imagined against women’s bodies. Drawing from her own life and family histories, as well as cultural myths and news stories about honor killings and genital mutilation, she interlaces the everyday traumas of growing up a girl under patriarchy with magical realist imaginings of rebellion, autonomy, and power. 

Elhillo writes a new world: women escape their stonings by birds that carry the rocks away; slain girls grow into two, like the hydra of lore, sprouting too numerous to ever be eradicated; circles of women are deemed holy, protected. Ultimately, Girls That Never Die is about wrestling ourselves from the threats of violence that constrain our lives, and instead looking to freedom and questioning: 

[what if i will not die] 

[what will govern me then]

My Thoughts:
Safia Elhillo, author of the beautiful YA novel in verse Home is Not a Country, continues to find catharsis amidst personal and generational trauma in her poetry. To be a woman is to be split open and bleeding. To be a Muslim woman is to be split open and bleeding. As women, we are ruptured and broken. But the beauty of these poems is that as women, we are also whole and fierce and powerful beyond measure. 

In this year where women are losing power over their own bodies (again) Girls that Never Die by Elhillo is a feminist call to arms as females to see each other and support each other:

& when i live alone

& that man followed me

one night home from the six train

up lexington        & into the hallway

tried for hours to break open my front door

you took turns from all your cities   & stayed

overnight with me on the phone    for three days

snoring & murmuring in your sleep

(excerpt from "Ode to My Homegirls")

Publication Information:
Author: Safia Elhillo

Publisher: One World

Publication date: July 12, 2022
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I enjoyed this collection of poems. There was great imagery and a lot of creativity in these. 
Some of the poems had the same names, which threw me a bit. Some of the repetition and motifs in poems felt overused (blood, clay, names, smoke, sheets) even for a book of related poems. For some poems I wondered if they could be short vignettes or told in a format with more structure rather than block text. What I liked was the honesty, openness, depictions of girlhood and consistent tone. 
Some of my favorite poems: 
-Tiny Soprano’s Tender Machismo
-Infibulation study 
-On Eid we slaughter lambs & I know intimately the color 
-Girls that never die (first one)
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This book of poems centers Black women in a particular way that is important for one to consider as we think about history, family lineage, culture, and identity. This book speaks for a fresh perspective on all of these topics and uses the lens  of power and autonomy in a provocative way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to view the world in a more informed way.
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A wonderful, well-crafted, and moving collection that grapples with what it means to be a Muslim girl, what is inherited, and what is silently carried.
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Girls Who Never Die is a stunning collection of poems and I mean that with every part of the definition of that word. I was dazed enough by this work that it took me a while to recover, to return to the heat of these poems and think them through. And the complexity! Not in a hard to read way, but rather, Elhillo writes layers of story into each poem. 

Cataloging the pain and shame, the collection addresses cultural pressures as related to girlhood/womanhood. Assault and the threat of violence linger at the edges of many experiences. The first half of the collection is heavier in this way, but Elhillo also brings in celebration of the secrets of girlhood; describes the awe of watching the patterns of women caring for themselves and others.

In the poem, “Orpheus,” Elhillo writes, “my body is something I’ve worn for other people.” The poem details the way the girl body is seen as a resource, a tool of work, a gift to others—-all while imagining the freedom of this body. It’s a poem that feels resonant of the themes of the collection. Other faves of mine include the title poem, “How to Say,” “Pomegranates,” “Ode to Gossips”, and “For My Friends, In Reply to A Question.”
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5 stars 

I became a devoted fan of Elhillo's poetry upon the release of the last collection, and I could not wait to jump into this grouping. At a time when misogyny seems even more prevalent than usual, this is exactly the reading I needed to feed my soul. I'm certain many readers will have similar reactions. 

Elhillo's work focuses on the enduring experiences and identities of women and girls, and the scenes will serve as effective windows and mirrors for every reader. The juxtapositions between traditional and contemporary, welcomed and traumatic, and formative and fringe create powerful through lines in this series of particularly impacting works. 

I'm already looking forward to imbuing upcoming syllabi with poems from this collection. Elhillo continues to solidify a clear, deserved, accessible, and visible place in the (finally expanding a little) group of modern poetic voices.
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Loved this collection of poetry from Safia Elhillo!! The poems explore what it means to be a Muslim girl, what it means to be a woman in the world, and the pressures of societal and cultural expectations on both. I loved how the author played around with poem structure and form throughout the book - it showcases their talent and ability to maintain the intimate and nuanced tone despite the format. The cover is also fantastic and the title is incredibly fitting😏

Girls That Never Die is out July 12, 2022 and is a can’t miss. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC in exchange for a review.
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I can imagine this collection being a favorite for a newer category of readers we see on social media called "it girls". One of the reasons being that the language is accessible, this collection is was uncomplicated yet absolutely breathtaking. It felt honest, and was generally paced well.
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This has to be my most anticipated title of the year. Safia Elhillo writes with such disarming vulnerability. I loved every page of this collection and devoured it in nearly one sitting.
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A collection from a Muslim poet about shame, girlhood, womanhood, culture, and complex family relationships. There are pieces where Elhillo uses [brackets around words] or says <i>there aren’t words for this</i>, and it’s like she’s chaffing against the limitations of language itself. Still, the emotion pours through. 

My favorite poems are the ones where she imagines different endings for women who have experienced gendered violence. It feels like she’s wading through grief and discovering new possibilities. 

<b>cw: gendered violence, sexual assault, genital mutilation, honor killing

<i>Thank you NetGalley and Random House for an arc for an unbiased review.</i>
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“see her: little cousin, little sister, sparrow-boned, alive. i want to turn to firewood everything that hurts her. i do not have the verbs for what i need for her. i needed them myself & was not protected. i want to make ash of this world that did not protect us & from that nourished soil sprout one better.”

Raw and personal, beautiful and haunting, this collection of poems was hard to read and important to read. Generations of trauma and shame are shared through these lines, right alongside years of friendship and belonging and kinship. 

There is rage, there is despair. There is also hope for healing for the girls that never die, for those who weren’t protected and had everything in the world thrown at them, for those who persisted anyway.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced copy. Most of all, thanks to the author for sharing your stories and the stories of those who trusted you with them.
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Thank you so much for sending me this collection of poems. The pieces here are stunning, heartwrenching, and breathtaking. The way hope filters through the rage and despair in these poems is mesmerizing. Safia has written an amazing collection, and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to read an early copy.
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After reading Home Is Not a Country, I was excited to read this collection of poetry. This collection was about Muslim girlhood and culture. According to the blurb, Safia wrote some of the poems based on news stories and cultural myths. She used events that occurred in her life as well as her family history for some of the pieces.  

Some poems were really hard to read…especially the ones about honor killings and genital mutilation. There were poems about rebelling against patriarchy. Overall, the poems seemed very personal and I’m so glad that Safia shared her words with the world.
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Thank you to Random Houee and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Available July 12 2022

Safia Elhillo speaks the language of my soul, of the girl who lived in a hot country with noisy streets and rooftop gardens. Her work is effervescent, floating on the cusp of girlhood and womanhood, dancing delicately between the two. I loved every single poem, for every girl who refuses to die no matter what the world throws at her.
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