Review: She Used to Be on a Milk Carton by Kailey Tedesco

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She Used to Be on a Milk Carton by Kailey Tedesco and Illustrations by Whitney Proper | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

Up until the release of She Used to Be on a Milk Carton, I'd heard very little about author Kailey Tedesco. After reading it in one sitting (the collection itself is short but packs a serious punch), I just can't imagine why. Compared to her contemporaries, there's something about her that stands out. She Used to Be on a Milk Carton was unlike anything I've read in recent memory.

Tedesco's prose is a mix of darkness and whimsy; an honestly unique and tantalizing series of poems that feels part fairy-tale, part Neil Gaiman, part Rupi Kaur. Kailey Tedesco hits her stride about mid-collection and provides her readers with a steady flow of intricate tales told in the form of poetry. It feels classic in many ways. It feels feverish at times. And that is what drew me to it.

Honestly, words cannot describe how incredibly tense and thoughtful the reading experience was when it came to this particular collection. I dare not try because even a world of praise cannot bring justice to it.

(This isn't to say it had no flaws or weak points. There were a couple of poems that I could have done without.) 

I loved the way each poem started with something that may-or-may-not be recognizable to readers. It includes other forms of literature or real-life occurrences (in the case of one, the mysterious Elisa Lam's disappearance and death) that keeps the prose entangling itself into the readers mind. What stands out about She Used to Be on a Milk Carton, more than its general uniqueness, is the focus that you have to have while reading it.

I thought that the brief illustrations found surrounding the prose was a great addition to an already strong collection. It added something to it without taking away the attention from Tedesco's work. Whitney Proper shines in her own right. 

In short, it's an experience that almost ends too quickly for my taste. Kailey Tedesco's words are the very sort you want to soak yourself in; embrace their Gothic tone and imagery, lose yourself in the whimsical nature and shadows. There's something unsettling to the atmosphere readers will find in She Used to Be on a Milk Carton and that surely won't be for everyone--but for many, this will mark the beginning of a longstanding love affair of Tedesco's prose and mind.

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