CW: Please note that this chapbook contains stories with scenes/mentions/themes of violence, death, disordered eating, and abuse.
It’s about mothers, daughters, accumulations of casual violence, and the bodily nature of family.
All it took was this brief description to get me interested in reading this chapbook. I’ve developed a bit of a habit of judging books based solely on their covers or blurbs, and this short sentence was perfectly able to capture everything I could want in a book and more. Shortly after stumbling upon this description, I was able to read an ARC copy of this chapbook, written by a promising young writer in the community. Now, after having read it in its entirety, I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. With an abundance of stellar writing, gripping tales and a deep rooted theme of family bonds and connections, Stella Lei’s Inheritances of Hunger is the new book you’ll want on your shelf.
After reading the first page of Inheritances of Hunger, it is quite clear why Lei has been nominated for countless awards: her writing is gripping. It grabs you tightly and doesn’t let go until you’re hungry for more. It is deeply complex. Every word was placed thoughtful onto the page and fit neatly into its sentence. You have to read each word carefully and devote your full attention to the story in order to truly grasp its magnificence. The chapbook itself demands a reread after you finish it, and upon picking it up and flipping back to the first page, each word is still as fresh and insightful as the first time you read it. You can continue to peel back layers from each story and understand more and more of its true meaning the more you read it. This is exactly my favorite kind of book to read.
It’s rare to find such a perfect blend of poetry and prose, but here, the level of craftsmanship is immaculate. Lei knows her writing, and how to take words and turn them into art. The book contains six narratives that read like poems. Each quotable and unique in its own way, while still having the remarkable feeling of being from the same author. Stella has perfected a writing style that is easily identifiable but refreshing and unique in all her stories. Her stories are beautiful, simply put, and they are a delight to read.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the best at interpreting. Stella’s work warrants a reread, because the messages and meanings are hidden within the words. They are not blunt or very apparent upon first glance, which forces you to look deeper within the narrative to find out what it is trying to say. Personally, I love this feeling of being invited to find meaning and really take in the words I’m reading. Some books are simple, and you can gaze over the pages and skip out words without missing out on much, but this is not the case for Lei’s work. For some, this can be a bit frustrating, and feel like you’re back in high school English class deciphering poems. Others might easily understand the words without much trouble. For me, it means that I have to pay more keen attention to the words, mixing them around in my mind and ensuring that I’ve committed each of them to memory.
I enjoy this. I like being prompted to further engross myself in the work. I like the feeling of the words floating in my mind and picking them apart to find the meaning in them. I love the way Lei puts her words together, to make these intricate sentences that stick out to me, whether I understand the full concept or not. This is what draws me to the book, and Lei’s writing in general. She is an author who you should definitely have on your radar. Keep an eye out for Stella Lei’s work in the future. I can guarantee you will find something unique and enticing for the curious reader that lives inside us all.
Make sure to check out Inheritance of Hunger by Stella Lei, forthcoming April 15th, 2022. You can find more info here and find Stella on twitter @stellalei04
is a Canadian-Jamaican student, slowly making her way through the writing world. She aims to not only write, but be impactful and play her part in making the world a less judgmental and more accepting place for people everywhere.
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