Review: New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood


Hello everyone, today I am writing about a book that is a little bit different. Normally, I only talk about fiction on here, but there will probably be more poetry in the near future. I will admit that going into this I was already a little bit biased. I have watched Olivia Gatwood’s slam poems countless times. I was ecstatic when I learned of her book and purchased it immediately. With that being said, I highly recommend reading this book.

My Rating: A

Goodreads Synopsis: One of the most recognizable young poets in America, Olivia Gatwood dazzles with her tribute to contemporary American womanhood in her debut book, New American Best Friend. Gatwood’s poems deftly deconstruct traditional stereotypes. The focus shifts from childhood to adulthood, gender to sexuality, violence to joy. And always and inexorably, the book moves toward celebration, culminating in a series of odes: odes to the body, to tough women, to embracing your own journey in all its failures and triumphs.

Poems: This book includes some of my favorites including, Alternative Universe,Ode to My Bitch Face, Ode to the Woman on Long Island, and Manic Pixie Dream Girl. These all address women’s issues and sexism. Quite honestly, they are very moving pieces. Accompanying these, there are also many new poems, most of these documenting the female experience. The words have a point and an edge. They cut at you until all you are left with is something raw and real. This unforgiving method of detailing experiences that women share is extremely effective. It makes rampant sexism and misogyny hard to ignore. In fact, I have felt as though I cannot be complacent since I’ve read it.

Composition: New American Best Friend is arranged to tell the story of growing up female. The series of poems is carefully arranged, meant to lead you through the stages of Olivia Gatwood’s life. However, many of her stories are ones that I have seen played out with a slightly different flavor in my own life. It captures this  gritty  and honest tone of being female that is often glossed over and made pretty. The things that we never talk about are not kept secret and hidden here. There is something about reading these poems that makes you painfully aware that being a woman has its blatant truths, ones that we knew of but never openly acknowledge. These include, period underwear, hair in the drain of the shower, unsatisfying sex, and being jealous of the conventionally attractive women. Overall, it was a fantastic read.

Ending Rating: 9.5/10, I wish it was longer. I wish that there was more.

Would I recommend it?  Yes, read it. It’s so good.

Is this book on your to-read list? Thoughts on Slam Poetry? Do you prefer reading or listening to poetry?


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