I will refuse to call it heaven

if the people I love

(who put me through hell)

aren’t there.


You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets and performers of the last two decades, Andrea Gibson’s trademark honesty and vulnerability are on full display in You Better Be Lightning, welcoming and inviting readers to be just as they are.


Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t tell you honestly what made me decide to pick up this book. I don’t know of the author or even really read poetry. But I am really glad I did.

Bitterness is the easiest way 

to leave this world having had only

a near-life experience.

There is profound beautiful elegant truth in Gibson’s words. There are words and lines and full poems that just spoke to my osul. To the parts of me that have felt grief and loss and love. I practically highlighted half of the book in an effort to remind myself of the parts of the book that spoke the most to me.

Gibson’s poetry was powerful. It punched me in the gut with its truth. Especially “Queer Youth are Five Times More Likely to Die By Suicide”. It hurt. And yet, it stayed with me, long after I turned the page.

I found myself looking out the window, pondering, feeling…just absorbing after every poem. I didn’t want to digest it too quickly, and forget something, gloss over something she wrote. I wanted to feel it all. I wanted to understand it all. I wanted to just exist in this book, at that time, in that moment forever


try calling it hibernation.

Imagine the darkness is a cave

in which you will be nurtured

by doing absolutely nothing.

I identify with Gibson as a person, an an inhabitant of this blue marble, as a girl in search of love. There is distance between Gibson and I, in age and in time and in experiences, but her words fill every gap between us.

38 thoughts on “You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson”

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