Though I’m sure to upset some authors and publishers who, understandably, want five-star reviews, I’ve my own definition of the five-star system.
*One Star: A crime against God and man.
*Two Stars: Poor, or otherwise not ready for publication.
*Three Stars: A solid work worth the money/read.
*Four Stars: A superior, award-worthy achievement.
*Five Stars: A standard setter, a work to stand the test of time, a work to be studied and read again and again….
YESTERDAY(‘)S CHILDREN … a three-star journey of pain and connection and regret and anger and a million other stabs….
Seeing this work advertised on Facebook, I was immediately struck by three things:
1) The fantastic cover.
2) The great title.
3) The missing possessive.
Writers tend to be a critical lot, full of bigotry and discrimination, if not of race (there is, after all, the current hub-bub about H.P. Lovecraft and his not-so-finer characteristics), then of ideas, or of genre, of what makes for good prose, and yes, what constitutes good poetry. Writers are opinionated, which is a good, for they need to have hills worthy of their blood.
And they, like George R.R. Martin, are the cruelest of gods, both old and new. Sadists and masochists. Who, even when shedding tears, hang characters from swaying ropes … and then throw stones.
They need to.
It’s a requirement.
Which is why, a prose writer and/or poet, must, above all–be brave.
Not everyone can do it. Not all have either the skill or the necessary spine. If people did, we wouldn’t need greeting cards. We wouldn’t worship writers. Or at least I wouldn’t.
Jackie G. Williams has both the skill and the spine. A brave writer. And one of those special ones who can transmit humanity, in its glory and pain, somehow, through squiggly lines on a page.
It’s a kind of magick. And, without a doubt, Williams is a magician.
First, the cons of the book.
1) Formatting could have been better.
2) Editing could have been better.
3) One might argue that illustrations could’ve enhanced the book … but with this, I’m now stretching. The words, without any question, paint many a dark and scarring picture.
In sum, it would’ve been quite nice if a publishing house, one with skill, had sunk some money, time, and effort into this work to really doll it up.
Am I right?
I’m also one of those opinionated, discriminating writer/editor types (with his own set of flaws).
But here’s the proof of Williams’s magick.
On a whim, after seeing the work, I visited Amazon. I noticed the page count, a modest 43-pages, I took in the price, a mere bit of change, and I bought it, immediately adding it to my Kindle where 3,000 other titles sit. But then, expecting to just read a few bits, where I might pontificate on why I almost exclusively read “real” poets, like Kipling or Yeats, I started “Yesterdays Children.”
And read it, front to back.
YES–front to back.
Front to back.
And sat stunned.
“Yesterdays Children,” primarily deals with the horrors of drug use and abuse, but not just in a drugs-are-bad kind of way, for that would have made the work nothing more than a highly effective sedative. Somehow, Williams managed to tap into the humanity of her referenced victims and abusers, the driving demons, the inherent loss and regret.
I’ve a loved one living on the streets, a victim of mental health problems, bad decisions, and the death-grip of heroin. Perhaps this made me especially vulnerable to “Yesterdays Children’s” siren call. If so, fine. Having this predisposition, though, I also came to the table–great cover and title or no–ready to be skeptical, ready to find, perhaps, another “preachy” writer who just didn’t get it.
Author Jackie G. Williams more than gets it. “Yesterdays Children” proved it. I read it front to back. And I will be having other family members read it as well. Will the work entertain them? Certainly. But more important, through Williams’s powerful–even if dark–pixie dust … her words … these people will find a vicarious and carthartic way to express their grief and to expand their knowledge about horrors which are all-too-often all-too-real.
Poetry is the ballet of writing. The most difficult of writing disciplines.
Jackie G. Williams, amongst other things, is a poet.
I read the book in a sitting.
Will be passing it on to my loved ones. Will “Yesterdays Children” connect with everyone? No. No work does. But at 43-pages, and barely over a buck, this author is all but giving away this work, verily this gift.
Hope she sells a million-plus copies.
To the author:
Dear Ms. Williams,
I’m stunned. Wish I had words. And I’m supposed to be a writer. Thank you so very much for this great piece of work.
All my best,
Rob M. Miller
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