A review of Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
By Lin-Manuel Miranda
Illustrated by Jonny Sun
Hatchette Australia
Hardback, Oct 30, 2018, ISBN: 9781472262813, RRP $29.99

There is evidence to suggest that the way you talk to yourself can have an influence on your overall sense of self-worth, behaviours, and well-being.  This is where affirmations come in. They provide a way of changing the inner dialogue.  Many of us have had a constant internal soundtrack of self-flagellation, and this can be debilitating.  Of course affirmations can also come across as trite and insincere, but at least being conscious of the inner narrative and trying to actively change the words from misery to gratitude can be powerful. Since his Broadway musicals In the Heights and especially Hamilton became theatrical phenomenons, Miranda has been the apex predator of the theatrical set, and he seems to use his powers for good.  Gmorning, Gnight is no exception.

GMorning, Gnight  is a book of affirmations for the Twitter age: it’s light, uplifting, easy to read, and quite frankly, makes you feel good. There’s a definite sense that Miranda really wants to make everyone feel a little bit better about themselves, and though this book definitely won’t be for everyone, it will appeal to young people in need of a hug. Each affirmation in fact feels a bit like a hug.  The book opens with a little rhymed introduction, which it’s hard not to hear in rap:

So I start each day with a greeting.
And end with a night variation.
It safeguards my evenings and weekends at home,
To sign off, a mini-vacation.

The book began as series of Tweets which Miranda used a pep talks to bookend his own day. After he received a lot of feedback to suggest that the posts were an important counter to the often mean-spirited criticism that fills Twitter, he realised that they were having an impact beyond himself. Jonny Sun’s simple black and white drawings are also like mini-affirmations – with an ease and gentleness that doesn’t demand too much intellectually, and feel soothing.

The little pieces come from a deep sense of humanism – of the sense that everyone matters, and that each person is uniquely valuable, and more than a cog in the machinery of the world (“You are SO much better than perfect, love”):

Good morning.
I believe in you.
Not always in our leaders,
Not always in the subway schedules,
But always in you.
You, unwavering.

This is a book that would make a delightful gift, especially for a theatre person, but would also be lovely to read to a young child, maybe one affirmation in the morning and one before bed – to cement that all-important sense of value and resilience.  We are living in a world that is often turbulent, negative and harsh. People often feel isolated, or stratified into groups, weighed down with media-speak and polemic and this little book is a great reminder of the power of empathy and love:

You are perfectly cast in your life.
I can’t imagine anyone but you in the role.
Go play. (196)