Hey, guys, and welcome to this month’s Story of the Month!

I know I usually make movies or games the Story of the Month, and as someone who loves both story and design, I tend to lean towards those media. But, I found a book that not only has a good story, but also an interesting format that I just needed to share it with you.

A few months ago, I saw this book on display and was interested by the cover: completely black with white lowercase font. And the title was catchy, too: “the princess saves herself in this one.” What was it like inside?

How thoughtful of the author.

What caught my eye first was the Trigger Warning page. I can’t think of any other book that lists the reasons for the book’s “rating,” let alone has a trigger warning. And while video games and movies have ratings and might share certain violent or graphic or explicit themes to give audiences a fair warning, they don’t list anything that might trigger anxiety or flashbacks or any kind of emotional response. At the bottom of the page, it reminds the reader to “practice self-care before, during, and after reading.” Can anyone name another story off the top of their head that advocates for self-love and care, too? Not many, I bet.

the princess saves herself in this one is a poetic non-fiction, each “chapter” comprised of poems. The chapters represent a different aspect of the author’s life: “the princess” is about her childhood, “the damsel” about a series of dark times while growing up, “the queen” about her overcoming the past and finding herself, and “you” about her sharing encouraging words to the reader to find their own way and stand up to the darkness in their life, to be their own queen.

**I will be discussing a few of the poems here that implies heavy topics like abuse, rape, and suicide. If you want to skip this part, then continue reading from the bold letters on.**

This one uses a lock shape to help convey secrecy.

Some of the poems in the book utilize different shapes and formats to drive certain themes home. The words here talk about pushing memories away and forgetting events, but still being affected by them. The lock shape of the poem adds to the message by visualizing a key element (pun intended) in the poem. The author is hiding something, and determining from the poems coming before, the reader infers the locked memories are traumatic, sad. It is also a common effect of abuse: some people try to ignore and push away the thoughts and moments of pain or suffering – but those painful moments still influence them greatly, even when the people try to hide them.

The two sections of the poem reflect the same format.

This poem uses strong sensory words like “bruises” and “tackled” and “no” to paint a picture of struggle and injury – more specifically, sexual assault. The poem focuses on the action rather than the person, highlighting the violence. And the last line “i will never forgive you” emphasizes how terrible this moment was. It was more than just an unwanted kiss; it was force.

This refers to a couple poems prior about the author’s sister.

In this poem, the word “suicide” is separated from the main chunk of text, and its letters are spaced out to draw attention to it. By this point, the reader learns that the author’s sister has passed away, and this poem addresses that. “the truth will free me” implies that the author thinks of this often and can’t escape these thoughts; finding out what happened to her sister would bring her peace and comfort.

**One of my favorite poems from this book is this page:

So much said with so few words.

Not much to say about this poem, other than I like its use of space. Everything is blank except for the line at the bottom, which speaks strongly and resonates deeply with me.

Through poetry, the princess saves herself in this one tells the author’s journey to save herself and be a strong individual. It covers her struggles, her fears, her dreams, and while the imagery can be stark, a thread of hope connects all these poems and culminates in the last section, “you.” It is poignant, identifiable, and I strongly recommend this book.

Remember to practice self-care.

See you for the next SOTM!

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