Books & Literature

Book Review: Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community, by Born this Way Foundation Reporters with Lady Gaga

NON-FICTION: A collection of fifty-one stories of kindness, bravery, and resilience from young people all over the world collected by the Born This Way Foundation and introduced by Lady Gaga.

In a time where negativity garners all attention, Channel Kindness is a welcome oasis to find the kindness in the world.

LOVE GAGA written in bright colors may be enough to entice interest in the Born This Way Foundation’s newest book. For non-Gaga fans, don’t be too quick to judge this book by the famous name on the cover. 

Inside the pages of Channel Kindness is over 50 standalone stories of inspiration written by various young reporters from the Born This Way Foundation. From mental health advocacy to volunteerism, the writers share the vast impact a small act of kindness can provide to individuals and the community. 

In the short story, The Magic of Kindness, featured in Channel Kindness, author Emma Carroll describes her life as a quadriplegic. She spent most of her early life in the hospital and the kindness given to her by nurses and doctors is what helped her through her worst days. At a Born This Way Foundation event, Emma recognised something familiar in Lady Gaga that made her ask the singer if she was in pain. This one simple question, this one act of kindness from a stranger, changed Lady Gaga’s life. It is the small acts, like Emma’s, that Channel Kindness celebrates and encourages throughout its pages. 

Channel Kindness gracefully avoids the pitfall of cheesy, insincere celebrity books by providing young writers, who are not yet renowned, a platform to share their stories with the world. It would be easy for Lady Gaga to write a novel about the bullying she endured and how that led her to create her foundation. Instead, the stars of the book are the writers sharing stories that promote getting off the couch and out into the community to make a difference. 

The Kindness of Offering Accessis another impactful story in the compilation which discusses a college student’s philanthropic journey of raising awareness about menstrual hygiene access. Menstrual hygiene is an awkward and uncomfortable topic to discuss and the author, Taylor M. Parker, admits to that up front. Nevertheless, they eloquently plant the seed in the reader’s mind about the importance of talking about this taboo subject as well as explain why feminine hygiene products are difficult to source. Many of the causes highlighted in Channel Kindness do not need millionaires to donate loads of money. They require everyday people to be active in their communities, and to show compassion, and of course, a little kindness. 

The writing abilities of the Born This Way Foundation reporters are impressive, especially considering most of the authors are young adults. There is an emotional pull in each story that draws the reader deeper into the paragraphs until the very end. Topics like bullying, losing a friend, and being different are presented in a way that is easy to empathise with and relate back to the reader’s personal experiences. Resources, like charities and foundations, are put into each story for when the reader inevitably comes across a cause that ignites their humanitarian side. The resources provided are American, but a quick Google search of the cause results in organisations that are doing similar work in Australia. Regardless of geographical location, the important take away from the stories is that kindness always makes a difference.

To maximise the magnitude of the stories featured in Channel Kindness, it is best to avoid binge reading. The theme of kindness can get a bit repetitive as the reader knows that each story will have a positive outcome. Lady Gaga also writes a small note at the end of each story, praising the author and suggesting alternative resources. To avoid it all blending together, Channel Kindness should be read in small increments when you need a reminder that there is still good in the world. 

Reviewed by Alessa Young

Distributed By: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: September 2020
RRP: $39.99

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