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“It Begins with the Body” invites you to laugh, get angry, feel empowered, and manage everyday difficulties with blunt irony

It Begins with the Body

Hana Shafi, 102 pgs, Book*hug, bookhugpress.ca, $18

With punchy humour and comic inspired sketches, Shafi offers various emotional layers and experiences that together help to define her as a young brown woman. The collection of poems and illustrations, It Begins with the Body, chronologically encapsulate a classic women’s coming of age story. Beginning with a chapter focused on body image and acceptance, Shafi brings a humorous, but heartfelt perspective on meaningful friendships, young love and heartbreak, the inner turmoil of defining the relationship of her race and identity, faith, and healing. Through these universally relatable themes, she describes and illustrates her journey to self-acceptance. But each line expresses Shafi’s individuality as well, making it uniquely sincere and non-repetitive. In “The Friend Breakup,” she grieves, “friends never promise you love they can’t deliver, / or promise to change and then don’t change because i don’t /want you to change, because you’re my friend, / friends don’t change.”

Shafi simply and effectively verbalizes the emotional depths of important friendships, exploring how a platonic relationship can be more profound than a romantic one. Shafi’s work invites the reader to laugh, get angry, feel empowered, and manage everyday difficulties with blunt irony. (Isabelle Vogel)

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