We Have Everything We Need To Start Again by Koleka Putuma

We Have Everything We Need To Start Again – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Poetry, modern, empowering, engaging, relevant.
YA book title: We Have Everything We Need To Start Again.
YA author: Koleka Putuma.
YA illustrator: Adriana Bellet.
Genre: Poetry collection.
Published by: Hot Key Books.
ISBN: 9781471413322.
Recommended for children aged: 14+ year-olds.
First published: Paperback June 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Teenage poetry fans.

We Have Everything We Need To Start Again by Koleka Putuma

To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.

Our review:

Press both feet to the ground.
Place your hand on your heart.

You are brave and capable.

It will always be your time.

We Have Everything We Need To Start Again is an empowering poetry collection by South African writer Koleka Putuma.

The poems featured are far from the traditional, tepid verses that may have previously caused young readers to dislike poetry. Here the language is modern and fresh and speaks directly to a young, particularly female, readership.

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Author Koleka Putuma’s debut poetry collection Collective Amnesia won the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Literature and was named one of The Sunday Times’ best books of the year in 2017. Her theatre background is evident in the performative nature of the poems in We Have Everything We Need To Start Again, many of which beg to be read proudly out loud. The book is copiously illustrated with impactful line drawings by illustrator Adriana Bellet, which help to further heighten the impact of the poems.

Many of the poems make clever use of typography. Words are intertwined with leaves or gymnastic displays. Poems are created from predictive search terms and protest banners. Such techniques enhance the visual appeal of the book.

Chalk Outline

Living in your shadow
for too long

will have you believing
you are your shadow.

This is an uplifting collection of playful language forms with serious impact. There is an underlining thread throughout the book of both finding and embracing your true self. Themes of identity and community also run through many of the poems.

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We Have Everything We Need To Start Again covers some big and highly relevant topics for teenagers and young adults. These include sexuality, gender, mental health and relationships. Technology also features heavily in the poems, as both a means of communication and a way to present an idealistic lifestyle.


We sell ourselves as
carefully constructed online figures,

fabricate realities for the gram.

We are liked for what we don’t show.
We must be followed to be seen.

We Have Everything We Need To Start Again is a fresh, modern collection for both new and established poetry fans. It will have particular appeal to female readers and fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikita Gill.

Many thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy.

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If you like We Have Everything We Need To Start Again by Koleka Putuma you might also like: our reviews of Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher, The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho, Forwards Always by Matthew Hodson and The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton.

Browse our  Year 10 book list.

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon