My Smile Is My Mask

A Collection of Poems

Poetry - General
107 Pages
Reviewed on 08/22/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

My Smile Is My Mask: A Collection of Poems is a work of non-fiction exploring coming-of-age themes. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and was penned by Francesca De Geronimo. Within this collection, readers will find a series of poems reflecting themes of daily life and the pressure of feeling the need to mask one’s emotions and personality traits to ‘fit in’ with the world around you. Told in a narrative style that flows naturally from one standalone concept to the next, the poems are also accompanied by some gorgeous, abstract, and emotional artwork by illustrator Hong Diep Loi.

It is rare to find a poetry collection that can be psychologically deep enough to resonate with adult readers, but still reach the younger adolescent audience in an accessible way, and I’m pleased to say that author Francesca De Geronimo has achieved it very beautifully here. It is difficult to pick out a singular moment of poignance for me because what really impressed me was the overall impression of each poem together, and the sense of security, individuality, and emotional freedom that the work wishes to inspire in its younger readers. From anxiety and stress through to persecution and self-doubt, the poetry within these pages really conveys everything that young adults will likely encounter in their lives, and there’s a learning moment for everyone along the way. Coupled with the Dali-esque art of Hong Diep Loi, My Smile Is My Mask will undoubtedly become a treasured collection worthy of a spot on everyone’s bedside table.

Pikasho Deka

My Smile is My Mask: A Collection of Poems by Francesca G. De Geronimo provides a glimpse into the ups and downs of being a young adult. Using her own life as the inspiration, she delves into the worries, hopes, dreams, and desires of a person after the advent of their adolescent years and showcases what it means to be a young adult. The book opens with a poem that celebrates the poetic art form, where you have to peel away its layers to discern the secrets it hides, and along the way, you might sometimes end up discovering something new about yourself. The poems in this book tackle some relevant issues that plague young adults or even new adults of our age, including body dysmorphia, anxiety, societal pressure to perform, and much more.

My Smile is My Mask is a beautiful collection of poems that is bound to appeal to young adult sensibilities. Francesca G. De Geronimo pens some deeply personal yet relatable verses that tackle real-world issues which the youth of today have to navigate every day. Although each poem has a distinct flavor and voice, as a whole they encapsulate the narrative theme of isolation, something people nowadays are becoming increasingly prone to experience despite social media, basically making it impossible not to stay connected with current events. Stylistically, the experimentation with non-rhythmic and unorthodox structural verses feels like a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed Francesca's work very much and highly recommend it to all poetry lovers out there.

Philip Van Heusen

Most people I know hide behind a mask. This world is full of problems, but we can fake a smile by wearing the mask of “everything is ok.” Francesca G. De Geronimo shares glimpses behind her mask in My Smile Is My Mask: A Collection of Poems. Poetry is one of the best literary forms to express emotions. Unfortunately, masks are some of the best liars. One can feel deeply depressed yet appear happy and content by using a mask. All it takes to fool most people is to wear a smile. Only true friends can see through your mask. Francesca knows that behind the false smiles are pain and suffering. To begin with, it is easy to put the mask on and take it off. However, the longer you wear the mask, the harder it becomes to see your authentic self.

Do any of your friends know you? If so, you are more fortunate than most, but unfortunately hiding our pain behind a smile is commonplace. The question becomes, do you still know yourself? Disguising your emotions so others won’t see your hurt can become the death of true feelings. In My Smile Is My Mask, Francesca G. De Geronimo knows the pain of emotions. She has moments of enjoyment, but mostly she hides the pain. This book is an easy read and will shed light on the deep feelings that you try to mask. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful world if people learned to accept us for who we are? Unfortunately, until that day, most of us will continue to hide behind a smile.