I discovered Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself at the library. I spotteda copy I thought had been misplaced in the flower section and found the titleintriguing. Just a glance convinced me not only to borrow the book, but to buy myown copy.
The flower section was actually appropriate, since Spilling Openis the journal of Harrison, who blooms during her teens. She expresses herthoughts through collages that include photos, paintings, drawings, famous quotesand poetry. The book focuses on her emotions and ponders the importantexperiences and people in her life, rather than concentrating on specificevents.
As a result, there is no real plot. I, for one, consider this oneof the book's virtues. There is a universality that allows the reader to feel she(or he) has experienced something similar to every event described. When I don'thave time to read, I can still turn to any page and get a quick lesson inself-discovery.
Harrison's lessons are important for all of us. Theyemphasize learning to love oneself despite deep insecurities, but alsodiscovering how to love others, experiencing both bliss and despair. These topicsare presented from the viewpoint of a young woman, which may make the book lessinteresting to older readers and to men. The only other drawback is that someissues are discussed many times and become repetitive. However, Harrisonapproaches them in original, beautiful ways, with both subtle insight andchild-like simplicity.
Spilling Open is one of the most magical books Ihave ever read. It is one of the few works of literature that I didn't want toend because every page is so inspirational. Harrison's photographs and drawingscapture the essence of her emotions, and her selection of quotes fits wonderfullywith the book, which is a continuous poem and work of art, and it is thiscombination that makes Spilling Open unique.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.