Arts book review

Fresh voices of reality and working to understand ourselves

A unique take on the self-help genre, told through the lenses of young adults

Points of You
By Vick Liu, Julia Rue, Mina Fahmi, Drew Bent
Independently published
Nov. 21, 2018

Providing fresh voices that should be heard, Points of You is written with honesty that can be appreciated by all. Co-authored by four current and former MIT students, the book is uniquely formatted, with 15 sections filled with short stories and pieces of advice. The voices of Vick Liu ’20, Julia Rue ’18, Mina Fahmi ’19, and Drew Bent ’18 alternate throughout the book, speaking about a wide range of topics, including mental health, relationships, and leadership. At first, the short, bullet-point format feels abrupt as the pieces of advice, while heartfelt, seem not to carry through before the reader is shuttled on to the next anecdote. However, after growing accustomed to the format, the small pauses break up the different stories in a clean way. In fact, the casual tone of the book is very comfortable, and this sense of comfort is enhanced by the inclusion of occasional drawings done by Rue.

The authors are all highly self-reflective, even qualifying their statements by following up with alternate ways of thinking. It is impressive to witness how much thought went into writing each sentence, and the humility of the authors is apparent. Because of these very human reflections in the writing, reading the book does not feel like receiving patronizing advice, but rather like a familiar conversation you could have with some friends. In particular, witnessing these young adults reflect on their mistakes and regrets, I was amazed by how they turned these negative experiences into sources of strength and understanding. The last few sections are especially raw and emotional. When speaking about family, friends, and romance, the authors include more anecdotal bits, telling stories of youth and growth that are relatable and unabashed. These personal moments give character to the pieces of advice they accompany, which can lack context otherwise.

Points of You leaves the readers to discover what they agree with or are inspired by, and also what does not affect them as much. I did not find everything exceptionally thought-provoking or revelationary, but it is clear that the book does not have this purpose. Rather than solely doling advice, the authors are exploring possibilities with the reader. Rue explains how important journaling is to her, and the sort of raw train of thought that is characteristic of personal journals is what makes this book interesting. The readers feel like they are getting to know the authors. When you meet new people, you challenge yourself to think in new ways. While I found my own thoughts echoed in some snippets from the book, I was also exposed to new ideologies and schemas. The sectioning of the book is helpful for those who may be struggling with a particular personal conflict like decision-making and wish to seek others’ opinions. This seems to be part of the book’s goal, as Liu writes in Points of You, “[Y]ou can live through someone else’s life and experience their setbacks and successes without ANY consequences.” It is apparent that the authors of Points of You are so willing to share their lives with the whole world. The book is not very subtle or nuanced in delivering its material, but it does not need to be — the collaborative tone allows the reader to interpret the authors’ messages, or at least witness bits of another person’s life. Either way, the reader is definitely left with something interesting and new to think about.