When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmin Kaur is a powerful novel that grasps our heart and doesn’t let go. Jasmin uses a mixture of prose, poetry, and illustrations to unravel what it means to be seen, as an immigrant woman in a world that does not want to. Throughout this novel I felt my heart ache, and my brow furrow through the struggles and pain of these women. This book strips away our hardened skin to show what we all are inside; vulnerable.
While the book doesn’t follow a plot in the traditional sense, we experience snippets of stories within the poems that give insight into a world different from our own. Jasmin covers heavy topics such as sexual assault, mental health, feminism and immigration. I admire Kaur’s courage to acknowledge and put words to the suffering and hardships of immigrant women, something that tends to be hidden away and swept aside. However this novel bares the truth, forcing us to confront the issues held at hand.
When You Ask Me Where I’m Going seems to be written as almost a stream of consciousness, flitting from one idea to the other with barely any transition or indication of separate thoughts. Her poems are essentially long run-on sentences with either no punctuation, or punctuation where it wouldn’t normally belong. While it may be confusing at times, in the end it adds to the strength of the piece as a whole. The constant flow of writing keeps our minds constantly engaged, and heightens the emotion and empathy we feel towards these women.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It addresses issues that some would rather not face. However I encourage all to read it as Jasmin’s message is one that everyone should hear told in a beautiful and mesmerizing way.