Member Reviews

I loved the first few poems and then they started to feel increasingly repetitive/redundant, to the point that I struggled to finish.

I think poetry is so subjective - you can be indifferent towards a poem until it hits you at exactly the right moment/in the right way - so I struggle with rating. There are a number of collections that immediately stunned me and I've never forgotten - like The Carrying by Ada Limon, The World Keeps Ending and the World Goes On by Franny Choi - and this wasn't one of them; that said, I don't feel qualified to comment on the quality of this book, just its own resonance with me as a human. (As a learning for me, I won't be requesting more books of poetry for review!)

Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest, albeit messy, review.

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I've been following Joy on instagram for a while and was so pleased to read her book. What a beautiful collection! Accessible yet layered, I would recommend this to someone wanting to get into poetry.

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Thank you so much for this ARC. I had to stop to slow down and read some of these poems over again. I loved this. I preordered a copy because I need this on my shelf.

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What a nice collection of poems! The sense of adventure, nostalgia, raw love and grief expressed through each poem was incredible. I felt completely transported into the life of this author while reading and also saw myself/related to these poems on such a person level. I enjoyed the poems more and more as I read - I especially loved the interlude "Westward, A Woman Walks" where all of the poems have a biblical theme & Eve is the main focus. I felt like the poems kept getting more nuanced and substantial from there! It surprised me how much I enjoyed this collection.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read Instructions for Traveling West.

I’ve always loved poetry. It’s such a beautiful way to express growth, longing, joy and all the emotions in between. With this being a debut, I was absolutely blown away with how beautifully written and relatable these poems were.

Joy was able to tell us a heartfelt story in every single poem and I am so grateful that this collection exists.

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What a gorgeous collection of poetry. I think a poetry book is a "win" for me if I love 60% of the poems, this was a 90%er for me.

I love how the author takes regular situations and makes them beautiful.

I love how she doesn't try to fool the reader but instead speaks plainly.

Reminded me a little of Kate Baer's What Kind of Woman.

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I recently started to get into poetry so I was really excited when I saw this book was coming out. These poems are beautiful. I love the way the author writes and I feel a connection to her writing.

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Thank you to Joy Sullivan and Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Instructions for Traveling West is full of raw emotion and a woman finding herself. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this poetry collection. As someone who was also raised in an evangelical household, I found myself relating to the author whenever she mentioned the trauma that comes with that kind of childhood. The certainty and fear of the rapture and the heaviness of decisions. I loved the poems Buttercream and Culpable for the mirror they held up to my own past and present. I also thoroughly loved the Interlude - Westward a Woman Walks. The fascination with a Biblical woman is something I can also relate to (mine was Esther).
I am so glad I read this poetry collection and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a vulnerable and eloquent look at womanhood and life.

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Instructions for Traveling West were great poems. Sullivan's writing is approachable but still insightful.

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Some of these poems hit deeply and will resonate for a long time and others were lovely to experience in the moment but may not stick long-term. Overall a lovely collection mediating on existence, wants, and one's relationship to the world.

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Instructions for Traveling West by Joy Sullivan is a poetry collection about what happens when we start over and figure out our desires. Here's one of my favorite sections: "Luck, like any little deity, is deeply mysterious and rather unknowable. Best to treat her with only reverence and gratitude. We don't earn luck and she certainly doesn't owe us anything. Manifestation talk stresses me out because it usually means someone is trying to sell you something. Or they want to make you feel bad for being uncertain, where, in reality, uncertainty is actually a beautiful posture of humility, in my opinion... I don't know if karma is real or if we attract, magnetize, manifest or whatnot, but here's some unconfirmed science I live by: love is a really wild energy and like any force field, the more you send out, the bigger the boomerang." I really enjoyed this collection of poetry. Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital review copy. All opinions are my own.

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The first thing I noticed about this collection is the musicality in every line, which is only further propelled by the sweeping cadence of natural beauty within. I really think this easy accessibility will help so many readers find themselves within these pages.

A solid mix of abstraction and detail allows these poems to be both grounded and in the clouds. And even better yet, her humor spreads unapologetically throughout to temper what might otherwise read as overly sentimental and bring it back to a place of real human connection.

So many of these poems work in the realms of homesickness, memory, ripe nostalgic longing for the fredom of youth, the lack of fear, being of two worlds and feeling entitled to neither, and gentleness in a world populated by those who would laugh at the ruins.

Sullivan is a master of the final line, really delivering that last lingering image or phrase that is bound to stick in your brain long after you've finished reading the next poem and the next and the next.

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I really enjoyed this collection! It was nostalgic and I liked the themes that it explored! There were a few poems that mentioned animal death/violence that I had a hard time with, so I tried to skip them when I could. My favorite poems were: Howl, The Cashier at the Gas Station Asks Where I’m From, Eve’s Apology, Red, My Mother Says Kissing a Man Without a Mustache is Like Eating Eggs Without Salt, After Covid and Comment Section. I also loved this quote from the poem In This New Life - “I’ve finally found a way to live on the inside of my life. This time, I’m the painter. This time, I’m the muse.”

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A thought-provoking, accessible collection of growth and transformation. I found myself connecting to several poems from my past life experiences when I had to start fresh. I appreciate the ability to be immersed in a collection like that.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House, and author Joy Sullivan for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I was stunned by this book. Really reminiscent of Mary Oliver. Immensely readable, meditative and compelling. I savoured these poems. Love, grief, climate change and tenderness. One of the best poetry collections I've read in a long time, can't believe it's a debut.

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Brb, buying a copy of this for everyone in my life.

I first read Sullivan's poem "my mother says kissing a man without a mustache is like eating an egg without salt" as an jnstagram post which captured my attention and made me smile, but didnt encourage me to get more into her work...the totality of this collection of poems, at this time in my life and probably on this earth is so damn perfect and vital. Sullivan writes her indecision and her loneliness and her joy so perfectly, and i definitely cried more than once reading it. I loved it, i love it, i want to tuck it in all my bags and on evry table of my house.

Thanks netgalley and randomhouse for letting me review this book.

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My first book of poems! I loved this. The author was raw & relatable. I will be purchasing for my own bookshelf to share with friends.

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A beautiful and thought provoking poetry collection. So much wisdom to be found with themes of reconnection, starting over and finding your true self.

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A few really lovely poems in here, but overall this collection wasn't for me. 3.5 stars, rounded up.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

Instructions for Traveling West is a debut poetry collection.

I can't remember the last time (before picking up this book) that I picked up a new collection of poetry and was online, preordering a hard copy, and ravenous for more, before I'd even finished the first poem. Joy Sullivan's poetry really is just that captivating, I think. Each piece was uplifting, or heartbreaking, or breathtaking; some felt like looking in a mirror for the first time, others felt like coming home. It's a joyful experience, to pick up a poem and feel like you know it, and it knows you, and a rare experience to find a book full of them. I don't know when Joy Sullivan will be publishing more, but I'll be waiting anxiously for when she does.

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