I understand and apologize if this makes the review embarrassingly banal and eyeroll-worthy, but let me start by quoting something else. When I got sent this book, I was in the (almost)middle of a reread of Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue. There was this line, in that one, that read: There is no good word for the opposite of lonesome.
That said: 1) There is just no good single word to describe this book. 2) Reading it is that feeling; the opposite of lonesome, whatever the missing word for it may be.
I want to say that I’m already familiar with Cariza’s seemingly effortless ability to spin moments and feelings into the right words, having read some of her pieces before on her blog, but reading this collection re-acquainted me with her writing in a way that made everything feel new and awe-inspiring.
I’ve read a couple of anthologies, and I’ve always vaguely classified certain writers and pieces into two: 1) The ones whose metaphors are noticeably more torrential, which, although not necessarily bad in itself, I somehow see as bars between me and the writer. These pieces just tend to be so raw and personal that you can never really fully empathize, merely watch. 2) The ones that reach out more, blanket more, feel more like a moment that you’re inthan just told about. This book straddled those two perfectly —I watched, I wondered, I empathized. I felt. And it didn’t feel at all like I was coerced to.
Every single piece in To the Sun, Moon, and Stars spoke something for itself. You will find both thunderstorms and warm cups of coffee in this book, but its consistent voice and style make it cohesive, the repeating themes throughout the sections comforting. I am a sucker for aesthetics in any form, and Cariza’s words cater to that particular need of mine. It’s beautiful, quintessentially, her words and the pictures they paint, without compromising the substance of her stories and confessions. I don’t know if she did it on purpose, but I also like that there seems to be a mention of various times throughout the day — quiet sunrises, deep nights, vivid sunsets. I like that it can make you feel happy and sad at the same time. That it can make you feel hopeful, at the end.
I like how brave it is. Whether or not you know Cariza in person, it will not be difficult to feel her honesty in her words, and how much of her and her heart she put into this; that it took way more than just one sitting or the mere want to put something out there. I always like specific bits and pieces that make a writer more than just an unfamiliar printed name on a page, and I was glad to find plenty of those here: retelling of real stories I was lucky enough to hear from her, certain songs, certain people, life broken down in small recognizable details. It’s so easy to sink into it. I like how it comes from the many sides of brokenness, love, and happiness, so that you can find a niche in her words, a companion in her book, wherever side of those above you may be on at any given point in time.
She advised, in this book, not to make homes out of people. I won’t — but she also said, in this, that she’s learned to shape chaos into constellations. I guess I made a home out of her stars. I know that everyone who will read this will do, too.
– Iris Jayne Consolacion
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