The Mask Behind the Mask
by Shana W. Gourdine

"When you think about courage, you see someone as being a hero.
. . . be your own hero."

This short collection of poetry includes words of encouragement for readers to reach into the inner strengths that allow them to face the daily challenges of “pain, sickness, mental struggles, emotional feelings, [and] battles with chronic illness.” Of its thirty-one poems, eleven address the speaker’s lover, while the remaining works deal with finding hope and perseverance in God and one’s belief in self. The overall theme running through each piece is the importance of loving others without compromising one’s love and respect for self. The author urges readers to find that which builds self-love, whether faith in God or recognition of one’s true being, in order to overcome the many obstacles life places in one’s path. Gourdine’s stated purpose is to motivate readers to “look behind the mask and know that it is okay to cry, to be sad, to be mad, and to love who you are through it all.”

This poetry is deeply personal. Each poem holds a mirror to the emotional travails and triumphs of life so that “As you walk and breathe and take in life, you / are inspired to be greater than before.” Many of the poems in this collection reveal one who has struggled in life and found her way to a place of self-acceptance. The author’s motivational words for others are heartfelt, as is her sensual description of the close experience between man and woman. Raw and honest, these poems seek to peel back the layers and masks used to hide insecurities and doubts from the world and even one’s self. Those who enjoy motivational poetry will find inspiration within these pages.

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