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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A poetry collection exploring fractured familial relationships, fresh grief surrounding the death of the author’s grandparents from years before, and living in the loss of what could have been. Many of these poems are letters- whether they’ll make it to who they’re meant for is a wearisome wondering, a mystery to be solved in the next life.
Kindle Edition, 63 pages
Published October 26th 2018 (first published June 4th 2018)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  120 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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What did I just read? My favourite poetry collection ever? Yes.

I felt like it had been written for me. I’ve never read anything that speaks so much to my soul. This is my favourite poetry collection. Of course it is, it just seems so obvious.
It got me sobbing from the beginning to the very end. I felt every word. The lines about being Jewish found their home in me.
I just loved every single second I spent reading this collection, every single word.
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very looking forward to reading something by Shelby Eileen and overall I think this poetry collections was a nice read. It mainly focuses on family relations and memories and some of the poems truly resonated with me. I especially enjoyed the poems addressed to the grandparents.
I'll definitely check out this author's other works.
Nicole Field
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-f, poetry
This book was honestly perfect. I marked it as part of my f/f shelf, although I will make an additional note that this is not a collection that goes into romantic relationships, but it is written by a f/f author and references their sexuality which is why I have put it on this shelf.

The poetry collection is divided into four sections: Dad, Mom, Zaidy and Bubbi. It opens with both Yiddish word meanings as well as personal meanings and the following content warning list:

death of a family member
The Bookavid
Gorgeous. There's not much you can say about something so deeply personal, aside from that I admire the author's ability to put such difficult topics on the page. If you like poetry and enjoy having your heart ripped out in the best way, this one's for you.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I am going to lay down my worry and my letters
and try to remember that not all the weight i carry around
is necessary

This was so wonderful and honest and real and heartbreaking. I'm in awe of Shelby writing a collection about family, family members and what they mean or don't mean to us. I love this topic and can't imagine how difficult it must have been to dig up these memories, this hurt, all of this feeling.
It was very different from Soft in the Middle which i am in awe of as well. I
This collection was really intense and beautiful and heartbreaking. I related to so much of what Eileen wrote about. Family is really difficult, and I really felt a lot of what she talked about.
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
Reading this book, I could feel how personal to the author it was. It felt like they were laying their soul bare on the page for everyone to see, and for that reason alone I think it's a special one. It didn't hit me like Soft in the Middle did, but I feel like it could do what that one did for me for the right people.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the last poetry collection by Shelby Eileen that I hadn't read yet, and I once again really loved it! Personally, this was the one I could relate to the least. But every single one of the poems was so beautiful and touching, and everything was so honest, that this really didn't matter. On top of that, I think this collection was my favourite stylistically.
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, poetry
you taught me a lemon language / something that is inflected in pale yellows and gold / something that showed me what it is to be soft and light / while still being corrosive

I received an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to Shelby for sending this to me, this is actually my first ever arc and I’m super excited about it. I also reviewed this book on Youtube if you'd like to check it out!

Sunfish immediately stood out to me because its primary theme is family.
some days I'm more mess than human
more devastation than
more disappointment than daughter
Theo Hendrie
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A complex, beautiful poetry collection brought to life by the concrete details Eileen weaves seamlessly into every piece. This is deeply personal, touched by so much of the poet's family and culture and upbringing, but there's something incredibly resonant here too. If you want poetry about families, about love and grief and how the two can mix together and be complicated, how we can feel both anger and love at the same time and so much more, then this is the collection for you.
D.E. Kerr
This book simply blew me away. So beautiful and intimate and REAL. I don't really know what to say because even three days later I am still in so much awe and speechless over this book, simply gorgeous and a book I know I will reread time and time again.
Be still, my heart.

If I'm honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one quite as much as Shelby Eileen’s first collection simply because the subject matter in this one isn’t relatable to me in the way her first collection was. But! I was so pleasantly surprised.

I swear, I was teary eyed during the entire time I read this book, with exceptions for the moments when I actually cried. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it through the collection without dissolving into a mess of tears on the floor.
Allie (alliewithbooks)
I think this might be one of my favorite collections from Shelby. They really were able to express the varying shades of love, longing, regret, and mourning one feels for their immediate family members. It felt so raw and relatable, and that’s what I always love most about their poetry. The emotions practically jumped off the page. If you’re looking for a poetry collection that navigates tough family relationships, this is the one for you.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verses, 2018-reads
Quite a heart-twisting poetry collection. Felt the letters to mom and grandma the best. CAN actually relate. The author has quite turned some of the 'black marks' of her family history into something beautiful indeed.

Favorite parts:
(view spoiler)
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I remember you
in sundresses
and sunrooms
and cigarette-smoke-filled sunlight"

Sometimes you read a book at just the right moment. Just when you were meant to. sunfish was such a book for me. My father passed away a few weeks ago and, because several of the pieces in this collection touch on the loss of family members, I ugly-cried my way through it. But in a good way; a healing way.

This is a slim volume of less than 100 pages but it'll leave you full. I tend to favor chapbooks and shorter collec
Chasia Lloyd
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story of broken ties

It's always amazing to open up a poetry book and find a mirror inside. This collection of sorrows with regards to family hit me hard, but I needed it. The musings of Jewish faith and heritage woven through the pages were equally beautiful.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-all, own-poetry, 2018
This collection is heart wrenching and wonderfully truthful. I dare your heart not to ache after consuming it.
Shelby Leigh
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my favorite writers at the moment. all i can say is 'wow.' read this one!
Luna Naomi
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
tender and grand

Beautiful, tender, grand, heartfelt, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. So personal and beautiful. Wilson's work is always inspired and beloved by me.
Kimberly (kimberly_reads)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adriana Brown
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection left me with a heavy heart, but in a good way. I loved every bit of it.
McKayla DeBonis
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I received an ARC for an honest review *

Shelby has such a way with words, she takes her pain and spins it into something golden.

Sunfish really had me tearing up because I could relate to a nice handful of poems, they really struck a cord emotionally inside me.

Shelby is amazingly talented and I can’t wait to see where else she goes from here!

update 5/15/18: full review here,
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
oh my god!!! oh my god!!!!!! insert gif of old woman crying about in a heart beat down here cos goodreads won't do it.

this is deeply moving, deeply person, transcends experience and just tugs on your heart. it speaks of so much sadness and yet the struggle to deal with said sadness could be read through every line. it opened my chest and left something missing, it left a hunger for more words. I wish I could hug this book because it deserves one.
Tiny Librarian
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed beta reading this new collection from Shelby. It left it's mark on me and feels original and authentic.
Elliott Dunstan
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love is considered one of the great topics of poetry (along with sex, death and war), but most of the time, readers and writers alike tend to assume that that means romantic love. There's a lot of poetry about new relationships, marriage, heartbreak - but that's not all there is to life or art, and Shelby Eileen's brilliant chapbook sunfish examines a very different kind of relationship; the mixed blessing of family and heritage.

Eileen's work is confessional poetry at its best, moving between in
"Not all the weight I carry around is necessary."

Trigger/content warnings (found at the beginning of the book): the death of a family member, grief, mourning, emotional abuse, ableism, mention of knives, mention of blood, strong language, anti-semitism.

"How hard it is to face you,
when I know in my heart of hearts,
my mind of minds,
that you will never know the depth of my feelings"

Themes: Familial bonds and relationships, grief, love, religion

This poetry collection was absolutely fantastic. All
Nicki Naomi
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Shelby’s first poetry collection ‘Soft in the Middle’, I couldn’t wait until she put something else out. I always find Shelby’s work raw, vulnerable and relatable to the broken. I love this collection as much as I did the first. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer! I finished it in less than an hour. Still, that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to read through it time and time again and reflect on her powerful words. It feels personal yet still relatable. And I personally ...more
Lexi Vranick
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so thoughtful and intimate. There's a rawness to it that struck me - I felt, in part, like I was reading words meant for another person. Like, somehow, I was intruding on somebody else's letter. But that kind of honesty is so pure. That kind of honesty, and openness, and realness resonates. This book paints a sometimes beautiful, sometimes difficult, sometimes heartbreaking picture of Shelby's family. I feel like I've come to know them through her words, and I feel so grateful to ha ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heaviness made light

This collection is different and more refined than Shelby’s stunning debut. This collection that focuses on family (poems sectioned into the poets relationship with different family members) and the feeling of being always slightly outside is beautifully written and takes some topics that could easily be very heavy and lightening them to something that, while it may make you cry, feels bearable and cathartic.
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