See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, by Valarie Kaur
Topics: Social Justice, 9/11, Change, Love, Hate Crimes, Police Violence, Sexual Assault, Xenophobia
Memoirs with Melissa shares bimonthly reviews intended to expose readers to diverse authors and life experiences. To see more of what I’ve read and what I’d like to read next, browse my virtual memoir shelf on Goodreads.
One of the commitments I made when I launched Memoirs with Melissa was to reconsider what makes a story good. A year ago, I may have said a good memoir has a strong hook, clear purpose, forward momentum, and scenes that make you feel like you’re reading a good novel. While See No Stranger indeed contains riveting scenes and strong writing, Valarie Kaur didn’t write this memoir for the purposes of entertaining her readers. Her start is powerful, yet deliberate and slow—a beginning that literally involves using ropes to haul a writing desk up the side of a mountain in a remote Central American rainforest.
As a life-long social justice advocate, Kaur speaks to an audience who is in it for the long haul, many of whom are in desperate need of hope and renewal following events like 9/11 and recent high-stakes elections. “The future is dark,” she says in one of her most mighty rally calls, “But…what if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?” Written for a world in transition, “Breathe and Push!” is her birth-themed mantra that offers readers emotional pacing through difficult content in her book and in readers’ own life’s work.
Kaur’s story is deeply personal and unquestionably relevant to anyone interested in transforming themselves and the world. She takes readers into her childhood, her work as a young adult combatting senseless murders of Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11, building a life with her partner, and her own healing journey as a woman recovering from sexual assault and police violence. Infused with history, ethics, religion, and science, each chapter pairs her experience with one of her 10 practices of revolutionary love, not the least of which is Joy. For any reader recovering from trauma, burnout, or despair over an onslaught of disturbing current events, her words are a healing balm.
Want This Memoir?
Consider purchasing from Femme Fire Books or your local independent bookstore.
Like This Memoir?
Learn more about this author, and explore her Revolutionary Love Learning Hub at ValarieKaur.com.
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