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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Side Steps Terrorizing Sound Bites Part 2: Some Things are Black and White by Amy Jean, with illustrations by Eric Savage, is a non-fiction poetic memoir that follows Jean's first book and its shared title. Many of Jean's work correlates to her own life and experiences, with periodic extensions into more diverse pieces that grab on to the recessive nature of humanity and an almost predatory societal system. Scattered throughout the book and between Jean's poems are a collection of the author's own quotes and a series of sketched illustrations by Savage. While Jean's poetry is written in free verse, they do have a metered rhyme scheme of shared vowel and/or consonant sounds that vary by poem and subject matter. In all, twenty-three poems and an introductory piece make up the whole of the book's compilation. They are intended to be read in chronological order.
There is no question that Amy Jean is an extraordinarily talented poet. Side Steps Terrorizing Sound Bites Part 2 is intelligently written with creative, powerful messages. Jean's punchy delivery is applied throughout, and for me, it was the political work with wordplay that was the standout. For example, Social Distancing, a timely poem on being together while apart for the good of all—“A way to depart, from civil distress, and rework the country, using common sense...” As for the illustrations, while well-executed, they frequently distracted me from the poignancy of Jean's work. That said, many are quite beautiful and even included a reworking of the 15th century tapestry The Lady and the Unicorn. Poetry is as subjective an art form as any, but Jean is able to weave themes that most would find to be universally affecting and I can see the work being embraced by many.