Bad Reviews Not Allowed?

I came across something on Twitter recently. A prominent author said that if you are going to tweet something negative about an author’s work, do not @ them. I thought this was a bit silly, but I know for any celebrity any thread can turn into absurdity really fast, and ultimately have nothing to do with the work. So, okay.

But then the author referenced negative reviews in general. She said negative reviews should never be written unless the work is causing real harm. And many prominent authors and critics were in agreement.

I find this troubling. We criticize the work of politicians. We criticize the work of artists. We criticize the work of athletes. We criticize the work of everyday people we work with. As humans we criticize EVERYTHING. Is the criticism always fair? No. But how does it make sense to say negative book reviews should never be written?

I understand if she’s saying as a prominent author, she won’t write something negative about another book because of her status in the publishing world. But I vehemently disagree with the notion that no one should write negative book reviews.

There are people who have very little disposable income who love books. And I know many of them use reviews to determine what to spend their money on. If we live in a world full of 5 star reviews, then there’s no point in writing reviews at all.

I still have my booktube channel, though I haven’t posted in a really long time, and I’ve been completely honest when discussing books I’ve enjoyed and books I’ve hated. Why in the world would an author encourage anything different?

I don’t understand the logic and I will continue to be honest about what I read.

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Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.