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Beautiful Girls is not a book for the faint-hearted. The reader has been invited to a sleepover at the asylum, a night in which five-year old girls drift alone through the wards, where the mentally unstable do sit-ups when nobody is watching and where heaven is a place between “the sky and the planets” reserved for those with personality disorders. This collection will be a home-to-home for sufferers and a journey through terrible night for those who’ve been fortunate enough to take the non-scenic route in life. Melissa Lee-Houghton significantly moves us on from any romanticising notion of the ‘mad’ poet driven through suffering to achieve their full genius. Mental suffering is here shown in all its nocturnal and diurnal detail: the nurses, the drugs, the lack of sleep; the disconnect from the yearned-for true self. Beautiful Girls will survive as a testament to poetry’s force in overcoming. (Chris McCabe)