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not a review: this i can tell you - rhea kotrashetti

book cover: isalina chow

I write this as I read Brandi’s book, in the middle of all the chaos around me, her book stands out like a sore thumb, offering a sense of solace. As much as I would love to hold a physical copy of this book and scribble notes and persona anecdotes in the margins, I am restricted to scribbling about it in the framework of this article.

Books and literature have often succeeded in putting into words the most complex of feelings, I struggle to comprehend. Brandi’s book sounds and reads like a precursor to the unraveling of a series of bold confessions and interpretations of loss and synchronicity.

“Forgetting how time works.

Waking up at night. That sort of thing.”

A riveting narrative of life and love the way it is; ever so often, tainted by loss, grief and sorrow. There are moments in this book that you will find yourself holding your breath, as though it is a faction of your own life being put into words. When words illicit the feeling of being struck by grief, quite often than not, it’s a sign to not put down the book.

Through the many pages and verses of this book, I find myself leaving parts of me between page breaks and picking up parts of Brandi. I find myself at a loss of words to describe my exact feelings in this moment; like I am at crossroads with a certain kind of sorrow laced with the eccentricities of a hopeful day. In Yaghan, you would call this mamihlapinatapai – Brandi has taught me befriend my grief through the course of this book.

In its own ways, the descriptions of death and loss in the text, pave a way for a more

profound understanding of the other facets of pain, that come with a shared sense of

collective trauma, with persevering through untimely figures and wanting to come out of it seemingly, okay.

“Losing my face in the mirror to find it again, my face scaring my face.”

In the realm of trauma literature, memory can never be considered as your trusted citation but what is, memory, if not your companion for life? If not an overwritten book, with sticky notes bundling out, instances of life you cannot forget but want to (probably). An ally and an enemy, the dichotomy of the head.

When talking about grieving and living, Spering’s closing notes remind you that all is not lost. Life thrives in the bleakest of moments, harder than ever but it does. It would only be wise, to read this book as a literary narrative of not just one, but multiple lives converging and stories being put into ink. What you feel while reading this will determine your opinions on this piece. What I felt while reading this book, I will forever carry in the consciousness of my grief, sorrow and loss as a resonance of strength.


Buy This I Can Tell You here.


This I Can Tell You walks in through the front door and looks under the sofa. It measures the length of the wall, taps to find the beams. It removes the hammer and the nails from the toolbox, places them in a line to find the difference. This is a poetic narrative that examines structures within a home. It navigates Spering’s muffled timeline due to the fragility of memory as a result of trauma and the secrecy maintained within a family, like a well-groomed dog.

About Brandi Spering

Brandi Spering resides in South Philadelphia where she writes, sews, and paints. Favoring non-fiction and poetry above else, her writing tends to sway between both, carrying a little over each time. Spering has received her BFA in Creative Writing from Pratt Institute. Her work can be found in Forum Magazine, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and elsewhere.

1 Comment

Suchita Senthil Kumar
Suchita Senthil Kumar
Apr 12, 2021

I'm so moved reading this itself and definitely see myself reading Brandi's book. Thank you for your beautiful words!

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