Before I begin writing my thoughts on ‘Dear Diary’ by Alex Jo Haber, I must declare this – despite writing a lot of poetry myself, I rarely read poetry books. Also, I almost never review them, because poetry for me is something very personal, something that cannot be critiqued. But now that I’ve read this book, I am going to pen down what I thought.

‘Dear Life’ reads like a personal diary, as if you are peeking into someone’s raw emotions and thoughts. It felt like I had picked up someone’s notebook from their bed without their permission (and I am capable of that). This is the first time I am reading a work that delves into someone’s gender transition. The pages are a mix of emotions, while some exude a sense of calm and acceptance, others are laced with rage and despair.

There’s a tinge of innocence to some of the text, as if you are reading the inner thoughts of a troubled teen. It’s amazing how some writers aren’t scared of sharing a piece of their heart with the world and do not mind giving them a glimpse to the darker parts of their minds. Some of the poems capture the angst of being trans, of being judged and being misunderstood by those you love.

Only one or two poems struck me as a little odd, because they didn’t have the personal element like the others, for example – there is one about a farmer struggling to make ends meet. But apart from those anomalies, the rest of the book is in sync with what the writer wants to share. Alex covers a lot of themes, including love, complexities arising at home, mental health issues, eating disorders and the struggle to accept oneself for who they are.

‘Dear Life’ is a nice little book for youngsters who want to read some raw, emotional poetry.