Book reviews that just get it wrong

It’s not often I address book reviews, especially when they give me four stars. Unfortunately, the latest book review for Hope Returns got it all wrong. (Sorry Phyl!)

Phyl Campbell is a writing buddy of mine and has done a few reviews on my books. In fact, before she did this review, she sent me a couple of emails asking about the characters in the story.

In the review, she does mention the story is flash fiction. NO. It is a short story. Flash fiction is a thousand words or less. I think I’ve mentioned this several times, but just in case references are needed, here’s a link: On Wikipedia and at Hope Returns is two-thousand words.

From the review: “But then the author writes that the mother didn’t care where the drugs came from. To me, that is an equally tragic, but entirely different kind of death. Drug overdoses could be accidental, or the drugs could have been a constant to try to reduce weight and add to the starving death. But nothing else is said about it.”

This is the short section from the text about the drugs:

 After the funeral, my sister asked, “Where did she get the drugs?”

I shrugged. How could I know? I didn’t care to know. Anger, resentment and guilt were all I could bear and I would carry these until I could make it right.”

Phyl asked me twice (in email) where the drugs came from. I said I didn’t care where the drugs came from. The story was finished and I had no more to do with it. To the characters in the story the where might matter, but why should it matter to the reader? The girl is dead for criminey sake.

Weigh in. Does it matter where the drugs came from? Does the reader really care?



5 thoughts on “Book reviews that just get it wrong

  1. My first reaction is ‘you never know what readers are going to care about’. It’s their book too, after all. My second response is one of sympathy. I’m always grinding my teeth about the things readers say!

  2. LOL. Well, I guess it comes with the territory. We do put our work out there to be critiqued, but when it’s wrong about specific things… I don’t know. Should we just keep quiet?

  3. I guess it’s an individual call of the writer (should the writer keep quiet when a reader, in their review, is wrong about specific things) because to be wrong about specific things lends an air to the story that is not true or off the point, which has an effect on the story and ultimately, the writer.

    I read her review, but not the story, and from her review, it seems to me that it does not matter where the drugs came from, because the story seems to be about something else entirely (but that’s only what I can say just from reading the review).

  4. Thanks for commenting on this. I go back and forth on the issue. The thing is, once I’m done with a story, I’m done. There are things in stories (like life) that we’ll never have answers to. At the time Hope’s mother is asked about the drugs, she was overwhelmed by everything else. She didn’t care at that point. It was more about everything that had went on with her daughter… Unfortunately, there was a lot, so, I’m not sure writing something else in place of what the natural story would be, would be fair to the story. But that’s just me. Does that make sense?

  5. That makes sense.

    Ultimately, you are the writer and so would know what is best, in the story. As for the reader, we see what we see, influenced by our experiences in our lives. . . and that does not always match with the intentions of the writer. As a writer, you have not wronged the reader in not revealing the answer to the question. And you’re right, there are things in stories, as in life, that we will never have answers to. Such is life, such are the stories of life.

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