Baptism By Fire is a grossly personal reflection on the state of modern womanhood beautifully crafted by Amy-Jean Muller.
As the title implies, the protagonist of the book is doused in flames finding her place in the world with zero problems making the reader feel the burn alongside her. From the very beginning the poems dive into our protagonist’s childhood, setting the pace and tone from the beginning that from the womb she was born into problems. An unlikely conscientious objector, she studies and learns from the circumstances of her birth, her parents’ complicated relationship ties, and the forced indoctrination of religious teachings that all seem to be used to suppress her gender as those around her see fit. Growing up in the hard knock life as a deadbeat daddy’s girl and forced into the blind acceptance of religion as a substitution of kinship and love is a delicious disaster decadently dished.
Transitioning into young womanhood,readers are left to watch helplessly as our protagonist continues the generational pattern of bad decision making as she stumbles through her destiny. Desperation aren’t in her vocabulary because her lack of value as a woman is her normal. It’s a refreshing exploration of a blossoming woman wilting away at the vine; an uncompromising journey of piecing a life together after a broken start coming from a broken home with a broken heart by broken parents. The best part about it is that readers can do nothing about it but take that ride with her. It’s whorishly delicious as the reader matures with the protagonist, fully committed into riding shotgun down her path of sexual prowess filled with doubt, jaded relationships filled with black eyes, and mired flings on a skid row path to a nowhere reality. Or so we’re gullible to believe. It’s this critical point in Baptism By Fire that readers realize our protagonist knows what she’s doing. She’s the captain of this madness weaker women wouldn’t have the strength to endure. Every cause and effect lead to a perfectly planned outcome she takes advantage of at her discretion, for better or worse.
The beauty of it is that we’re perfectly okay with that.
The vivid sprint to the conclusion may on the surface feel like the same reoccurring themes, yet they are freshly reinvented and re-imagined; dramatic narrative choices highlight the most unadulterated poetic moments in the book. Readers know our protagonist isn’t as pitied or lacking of self-worth quick judgements cast on her at first glance. Sure, it’s not pleasant or pretty but the genius of the poems is that it’s a guilty sin. Sex, sin, and sexuality are shocking, uncompromising, and best of all free of the same guilt everyone in the book has attempted to bestow upon the protagonist. Her most intense feelings and their consequences with past, present, and future situations drives the book non-stop with not ever taking a breath. And we’re okay with that too, since it works for the reader to feel the urgency and build panic so we are forced to accept her circumstances. It’s uncomfortable to think we’re merely voyeurs to a world she didn’t invite us into as we should be privileged for the experience.
Authentic, powerful, and paralyzing, the poems of Baptism By Fire are not your G-rated Disney tribute poems you may find on the back of Cracker Jack boxes. This is a die hard ruthless collection that’s explosive in exposing a side of womanhood that society, the media, and the church have a tendency to impose upon the unsuspecting souls that are on the verge of casting sin. Our protagonist is one such woman being the hunted among the scorned, worth nothing more than a struggle and what she will do once settled into that normalcy! The profound conclusion is our protagonist is smarter than she’s given credit for, and it’s the reader’s nerves on edge as she puts herself out there trying to figure it out. It’s our expectations of learned behavior that uncovers a slice of womanhood Social Justice Warriors always protest for but are too afraid to experience and indulge in themselves before their crusades.
Now do yourself a favor, read the book, and let it scare the hell out of you.
Baptism By Fire is currently available on Amazon, released by Close To The Bone Publishing.