My Book Review of The World We Live In Part 1
“A poetry book that exposes the truth like you have never read before!”
What Does It Mean to be Human? Internal Conflict: Battling Inner Demons
We are quite familiar with the prolific work of Author Jamell Crouthers, never disappointed by the undying and relentless zeal he commits towards prominent and common societal issues. He uses his poetry as a weapon against ignorance, and it is like a radiant lamp of light in the dark, and edification for the mind, heart, and spirit.
Firstly, we would like to recognize one of the author’s signature trademarks when it comes to his writing approach and how he communicates the characters feelings, thoughts, and ideas to the reader. Through the use of effective characterization, he displays human feelings, attitudes, beliefs, actions, and various attributes of society that impact our human nature. For example, alcohol, one of the world's most renown pleasure's, usually associated with fun, enjoyment, and celebration.
Heather, a fictional character in the book, tells us how she chooses to toxify her body with excessive amounts of liquor, compromising her health, relationships, and inevitably her own life. The alcohol controls her and she says, “I don’t know when will be the last time I drink alcohol, I keep saying today is the day, but then I look up for another bottle", boldly admitting her addiction. Whether you are or have been an alcoholic, or the person(s) that has dealt with an individual who is, understanding what it does to a person’s mind is unbelievable. From blackouts, to severe kidney damage (like Heather), the liqour takes a toll on a human being, mentally and physically.
For Heather, alcoholism is king of her life, in fact, she is even depicted as being in a 'drunken’ state as she composes her confession. Her broken and dying spirit is hopeless, and her thoughts are confined to sub-standard beliefs of her character, unable to forgive herself and positive that no one else will either, especially her children. There is a quote that comes to mind that helps explain Heather’s hopelessness, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose’, though in all reality she does. She speaks as if she has given up already, tired and beat-down from a past founded off of alcohol.
As she opens up about her life, Heather pulls from the roots of her family tree, which is coincidentally where many of her entrenched behaviors and habits originate from. In her case, her family tree reveals a long, substantial, generational history of family members, including her mom and dad, also in lust with bottle.
A rugged, problematic, and dysfunctional upbringing didn’t help at all. As a child, Heather was constantly immersed in violence, thus, bitter seeds of anger, pain, resentment, and hopelessness escort her unto the path of continued misery. Disheartening. How can a child grow up normal under such harsh conditions, you wonder? And is it really possible to move on from such traumatizing experiences? It’s easy to say, that’s for sure; but what does it take to put into action? These are some of the questions that arise when considering her situation.
In the cold words of Heather, she professes; “My body will detoxify, but my demons will still haunt me”; which gives us more insight into why she continues to feed into her sickness - her beliefs. Yes, she has been affected by the brutal adversity of life, as we are all subject to in one way or another, but the core issue remains, as with mostly all of the characters written of in this compilation, and that is belief. Seems small, right? How can your beliefs trump your feelings, emotions, circumstances, and people? Well, right now, Heather believes the worst for herself, confounded by her situation; in result, the more she believes that the alcohol is the solution to her unhappiness, the more real and acceptable it is in her mind as the only solution to her instability. The alcohol is killing her, slowly, but surely. And in her intoxicated mind, this ‘weapon’ is actually a good thing, even though she tells herself it isn’t.
In most instances, the analogy, 'inner demon', is typically referring to an internal conflict of character with a person, as the individual struggles with a debative dual conscious, one part advocating to do the right thing, while the other part accommodates and endorses the very thing that is ruining the person's life. These ‘internal demons’ that Heather speaks of are typically the 'invisible' driving forces that influence the broken, abused, and conflicted to drown themselves in a thick pool of sorrows, just like Heather - and she is the only one to make the decision to overcome. Will she, is the question? Unfortunately, for now, her anxiety is eating away at her soul as the time approaches for her to face a DUI case in court. She’s already lost her children, and as she contemplates court, awaiting her unpromising fate...that inner demon whispers that it is the perfect occasion for a shot - thankfully, she has an epiphany that will hopefully be the end to a new beginning.
As you can see, this is not your ordinary book discussing societal issues, mixing in the corruption of politics and wavering laws. It is a series that documents minor and major important topics that are relevant to humans, period. Author Jamell Crouthers dives deep into the most sensitive, purest, and secretive realm of the human mind in order to display, in the most candid manner, just how dark, disturbing, and grave the thoughts of a person undergoing any type of challenge can be. There is a definite and noticeable trend of self-hate, disappointment and dissatisfaction, revealing the characters weaknesses and inability to accept the unpleasantries of life. Despite the pessimistic and negative ambience that encapsulates the defeatist mentality many of the characters possess, you can perceive a small voice, like a whisper, in the background crying, screaming, desperate to get back to a healthy and stable condition... but those dreadful demons, well, only Jesus can expunge, permanently.
We appreciate this book tremendously, as it is such a blunt, raw, and honest account of human beings and contains the power needed to trigger your emotions, for better or worst. Often, in a judgemental world, honesty is not as acclaimed as what it should be, but Jamell stands out for this fact, which is such a notable trait for writers!
We couldn’t read this book without mentioning Christina’s tale, for she too, suffers from acute postpartum depression, like Heather, but a bottle of liquor won’t dare give her back what was deliberately stolen from her, and that is her body. To imagine a person forcing themselves upon you, strangers, taunting and taking pleasure in such a disgraceful and abominable act, simply put, is infuriating! Pure evil. This young woman was perfectly normal before the day she was viciously gangraped by four different guys, and ever since, her nights are plagued by recurrent horrid nightmares and profuse cold sweats. Her tear ducts can no longer produce liquid and she scrubs her skin to death, as she feels the soap and water can never clean the filth from her body, stained from the predators wicked hands. This is an incident that can in no way, shape, or form be taken lightly, it’s poisonous sting having a long-lasting effect that even a conviction cannot satisfy. It seems implausible that this transgression is one of society's central issues, yet it is, and because of it, innocent people are projected into an unfamiliar world of shame and seclusion.
Disgusted of her own skin, reluctant to a man's touch, descending into a fathomless sea of deep, dark, blue sorrow and sadness, Christina must prepare herself to confront the accused in court, and it is more than difficult to bear the thought of seeing their wretched faces, again, as memories of their savagery replays like a record stuck on repeat. Christina is troubled by sinister visions of the attackers 'clammy hands’, and sleep will never be the same with all of the discomforting sensations of being fondled keeping her awake. Even if the rapists are convicted, sentenced to prison for life - if Christina does not find a way to overcome the torture infecting her heart, this damaging experience, like Heather, will attempt to hold her captive, too.
So, will she move forward? Will Christina ever be the same again? She can be the only soul to determine that. Regardless, it is terribly heartbreaking to hear the internal cries of Christina in this poem, and unfortunately, prompts you to question the character of humanity, in general.
Like Charlie; who lives with an unbearable sex addiction, deeming his own self as a 'pervert', confessing the fact that he confides in anything sexual to stimulate and satisfy his unmanageable desires. He even admits that he lost the one woman whom he viewed as more than just a sexual object. Or was it more like a sacrifice?
This poem displays how thoughts quickly transform into actions, for Charlie's fetish for porn and stripclubs isn’t enough, no; his overly excited mind and body craves more, pushing him towards the "real thing" rather than some fictional-pretend fantasy that merely exists in the mind. What’s particularly interesting with Charlie, as with most of the other personas in this book, is how honest and brutal he is, internally. He seems torn between feeling thrilled and excited about his obsession, and bearing the guilt of how extensive and salacious it is. Either way, he falls into the arms of infinite lust, following his wild instincts of lecherous lewdness.
Though many societal issues surrounding humans root from our environment and circumstances, there are a number of societal matters that frequently stem from low self-esteem, conflict of image, and failure to meet the ideal expectations of society. Subsequently, women (and men), young and old, will do anything to fit into societies paradoxical standards. And Stephanie is willing to do what it takes to accomplish her goal and dream of being a model, which is exactly why she lives with an unhealthy eating disorder. Sure, she is well aware that it’s wrong, but it’s one of those ‘fast’ ways of getting quick and easy results, and with her being a full-figured young lady, the ideal image of being a high-fashion model is far off. Even being a ‘plus-size’ model is not good enough. Her testimony reveals just how important it is for humans to feel ‘normal’, yet the twisted part about this, is that ‘normal’ seems to be controlled and dictated by unknown mass sources who market based off of money rather than truth, even when it comes to image! Stephanie and other girls like her should never have to feel like they must compromise their health to ‘fit in’, whether it’s at school or an industry. But who is immune to the world’s pressures?
What's compelling about this poem is how it provides more than one reason as to why Stephanie feels uncomfortable in her own skin, going as far as to mention how societal standards ultimately influence culture (clothes, food, hobbies, entertainment, etc.); which then influences decisions and choices, which inevitably influences and affects our core beliefs. For example, once upon a time in history, a more curvier, voluptuous woman was considered, ‘ideal’', whereas now, in a new-age generation, in the world of high-fashion modeling, eating disorders, bulimia, and even starvation are all too familiar tactics to ensure the word ‘fat’ or ‘gain’ remain defeated.
The truth is, the ‘standards’ that many of us believe are real, are simply only temporary and fluctuating trends liable to alter at any moment. But the invisible weight and overwhelming pressure of rejection, failure, and mediocrity, when in pursuit of your dreams will always dare to challenge your beliefs! This poetic account also highlighted some of the contradicting stereotypes that people must face simply because of their size, and it’s unbelievable! The dirty looks from women (and men), the sexual abuse enacted by perverts eyes, the controversy of losing weight and how much is enough, what the reason of losing weight is for...it’s ridiculous. This is why we stress the power of the mind. Society will tell and do as it pleases, but if you can distinguish the difference between right and wrong, while remaining true to who you really are, it is definitely possible to escape the subliminal conditioning!
Our favorite part about Stephanie’s powerful testimony is when she says, “Modeling is my passion and living healthy is the key component. Here is a start to a new beginning as me and my mom have a toast, to accomplishing goals, dreams, and pursuing happiness.” Truly inspiring, especially for women!
It all starts with a thought...so what happens when the root of your problem inhabits the brain? It is the organ that helps us to remain competent while handling our daily responsibilities, but what does one do when this valuable gem is unhealthy, unstable, and demented? ‘You never really know what it’s like to be without something until it’s gone’, is an old saying that speaks for itself. This poem is riveting to the bone and paints an image of a never-ending illness that no medication or doctor can cure, depression.
Pills and prescribed medications are only temporary fixes that Tyler witnesses his deranged sister hypnotized by, often dazed in lucid hallucinations, which doesn’t provide any real sense of hope for his own life. Cancer and the sudden death of the only two people who supplied him with unconditional love adds to his heart’s hollow void, and it is saddening.
It’s like a thief coming into the night and robbing you of any happiness that you may have had. Bright, sunny mornings appear clouded and dark; the weight of the world is just much too heavy for him to even climb out of bed, and mood swings are an understatement when considering how temperamental Tyler’s emotions can be. Contemplations of suicide deceptively appear as the nearest path to peace and the only way to free his mind from the dangerous abyss of depression. Tyler represents an entire population of individuals living with a mental disorder; and whether it be depression or schizophrenia, not being or feeling like you are in control of your own mind is a dark place to be.
In conclusion, we deeply admire and respect this book as well as the author. The content magnifies the forbidden ideas that most people won't or don’t just outright admit. And to be quite honest, admitting, confessing, and honesty are the first steps in moving forward. Granted, as human beings, we deserve our privacy and are indeed entitled to live out our lives as we please; nonetheless, powerful books such as this remind us that we are not alone, we have all gone through something, if not going through a challenge at this very moment. Jamell is right; empathy is key, as the problem you think you will never have to worry about today, can be the one thing that drastically changes your life forever, tomorrow.
On the contrary, as heartbreaking as it can be to bear the profound and extensive adversities of the world and how they change and affect us, we are all responsible for the decisions that we do have control over, specifically when it comes to self. Digesting all of the characters’ explicit, and at times, graphical confessions, put into perspective just how powerful all of the other things around us can be - alcohol, dreams and goals, medication, the media, TV, trends, death, sex, sexuality, other people, and the list goes on. All of these contributors clearly influence our likes, dislikes, wants, goals, desires, thoughts, impulses, and last but not least – actions. We will close our analysis with three words - Do the right thing, and that is exactly what Jamell is doing with his gift of poetry!
Author Jamell Crouthers, superb presentation! What you are doing with your poetry is amazing, dignified, and noble. There is no doubt that anyone who reads this book, will positively be affected. We rate this book 5 Stars! It is an emotional and realistic account created to penetrate the human heart.