I Haven’t Lived At All by Evelyn Knightley – BOOK REVIEW

By: Evelyn Knightley

* I received a free electronic copy of this collection of poems and short stories free in exchange for an honest review.*

The description of this collection on Goodreads states: “This is about what it means to survive, but never really live. This is about simply ‘being’ in whichever way you choose, or whatever way you have to. This is about letting go, moving on and searching for the life that is out there just waiting to be lived.”

This book is separated into two parts. Part One is a collection of poetry and Part Two contains short stories.

I found that almost all the poems have a dark theme. Quite a few of them seem to be about giving up. Some of these poems actually appear to be suicide notes. There is a lot of angst and emotion in these writings and as a grown up with teenage sons these poems scared me. I know that if one of my teenagers was producing writings such as these I would take him to seek professional help. That is to me what these poems are. They are a cry for help from someone who is struggling to find something to live for. However, as the collection progresses, the tone changes to a more hopeful one.

Some readers may be turned off by the tone or subject matter of the poetry and decide to discontinue reading this book. My advice is to NOT stop reading. If the poems are not for you, the short stories will be.

The poems are very emotionally raw and will strike a chord in most anyone who reads them. It is impossible to read a poem like “IT’S NOT” and not wonder what happened to the author to prompt her to write something so stunningly dark. “It’s not that I want to see you burn and it’s not that I would harm you, but if I were to see you on the floor crying out for mercy – I would turn the other way.” What can you say to that statement other than “yikes”. There must be some serious emotional baggage behind the creation of that poem.

The poem collection is like a walk through the angst and over-dramatized world of a teenage girl. The poems seem to get darker and darker until the last three are written. By the time the author writes “Know” and “Twenty-One” she seems to have started to mature and to grow up and out of some of her self-centered adolescent angst.

The short story collection begins with “Shattered” which is a brilliantly written story about a young girl.

“Work In Progress” is a story about a pub waitress that is full of astute observations. “… I had learnt that if you took enough time to look at all the faces of the people in here, you could begin to learn how the village worked.”

As the author writes in one of her short stories, “Humans, I had decided were fascinatingly perplexing.” That is a great way to describe this anthology of poems and stories. It is both fascinating and perplexing.

I find that when trying to rate this collection I am confused. If I were to rate just the poetry collection I would give it one rating and if I were just to rate the stories I would rate it a different way. To amalgamate the two parts and give it a single rating is much more complex. With that in mind I give “I Haven’t Lived At All” a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

If this author ever produces another short story collection I will be eager to read it. I admit that I am not an aficionado of poetry and as such I was less enthralled with the poetry, but it was definitely emotionally evocative and if that was it’s goal, then the aim was achieved.


“Evelyn Knightly was born in Oxford in 1992. After falling in love with the power of words and creative writing at a very young age, and during a time in which two very different paths in life presented themselves, she made the less than conventional choice of leaving the world of higher education to stay true to her inner child. Waving goodbye to the prospect of a Psychology degree, she is now giving the life of a broke writer a try.”

To learn more about this author visit http://evelynknightley.wordpress.com


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