Book Review: Pieces of Me by Amanda Steel

Book Review: Pieces of Me by Amanda Steel



“She discovered the way people file you away
In boxes, attaching labels
Insisting you can only be this or that”

Pigeonholed, Amanda Steel, Pieces of Me


Pieces of Me, a poetry collection by Amanda Steel is a journey into the multi-faceted life of the heart and soul. This first poem sets the tone for the entire collection, which is broken up into several parts that comprise “pieces” of the author’s life experiences. The beginning of this poem is an expression of advice often given to young people, assuring them they can be anything they want to be. These endless possibilities are deftly removed as children grow older and are told about limitations. Steel clearly calls out that our language and tendency to label also creates a hypocritical hindrance as we begin to navigate adulthood.


“Leaves on the floor
Food under the couch
Sheets torn off the bed
And biscuit crumbs scattered everywhere
Like he thought he was Hansel
But Gretel had enough”

Hansel and Gretel’s Spring Clean, Amanda Steel, Pieces of Me


In the section titled Pieces of Fractured Fairy Tales, the poet takes us on a trip and tumbles us upside down into the fairy tales we thought we knew and gives the reader new perspective. Steel tucks grave messages inside the humour of these lines. She reminds us that these stories were told through the lens of history, passed down folklore and the tellers were often men. From the retelling of Goldilocks with zombie bears to Gretel’s swift dispatch of the lazy Hansel, Steel opens the door to new ideas about old stories.


“And if she could do it all again
She would live in the moment
Leave the cameras at home
And not live her life through a lens”

Life Through A Lens, Amanda Steel, Pieces of Me


This poem is nestled in a section called Pieces of Other People’s Lives (Real or Imagined). This stanza from Life Through A Lens, is a struggle I can relate to on a personal level. Technology has granted us so many opportunities to see and preserve our experiences through camera phones. I often find myself wanting to ‘remember’ the moment or the place and wanting to share it with others. Sometimes, the preoccupation with that robs me of the actual experience.

What I end up remembering is how I got the photo or how many times I had to take it or adjust my position to get just the right shot. I struggle with wanting to experience things and wanting to record them to keep them. I don’t always trust the ability of my memory. This poem reminds me that I don’t want to feel like the woman in the quoted stanza. Steel captured a piece of me in this poem, without knowing my life.

“It’s not dragging up pain for me
I didn’t forget, and don’t want to
I want to keep him alive
Even if just in memories”

He Was Here, Amanda Steel, Pieces of Me


Within this poem the poet addresses remembrance and grief with a sense of grace. As with so many of her poems, she asks questions by sharing experiences and turning the light inward. Steel reminds us that memories can keep people alive in ways that can provide comfort. Though people experience grieving in many different ways, this reminds me that the ability to recall the past can be a balm to the heart. I suppose, it’s my hope that I will stay alive in the memories of the people I have loved and the lives I have touched even after I am gone. To live in a memory of love is to occupy a place of honour.

Pieces of Me by Amanda Steel took me on a roller coaster of emotions. I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform in Manchester on a few occasions and am always left laughing at her wry sense of humour. Some of these poems introduced me to a different side to her and reminded me that we choose what people get to see. These poems plumb the depth of personal confusion, laughter and heartache with a sincerity that kept me turning pages and wanting more.

Pieces of Me by Amanda Steel is currently available for purchase at Amazon.


About the Author

Amanda Steel is a multi-genre author who has just completed her Creative Writing MA. She regularly performs her work at open mic nights around Manchester. Some of her current projects include a book review podcast and a literary magazine.
Her website is