There are book reviews all over the Internet, so no one really has to be limited to the online reviews offered on book sale sites like Amazon. And normally I try not to take reviews personally. Yeah, I love to read that people loved one of my books and sort of get sad if they don’t, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
Only recently one review really set me off. But even more than the review, an insipid comment in response to that review had me seething.
A mother, Jill Austin, posted a review on Amazon for THE BOOK OF LUKE: DO NOT BUY!!! Parents Be warned!!! I was assaulted with sex, sex, and more sex (among other comments about all of the SEX!!)
Another person, A. Cummings, replied in the comments section: Thank u Jill, for taking the time to comment. Saved me from having to read the book myself. Should have read the reviews before my daughter downloaded to her kindle. Waste of $9
Why did that piss me off so much? Because this A. Cummings can’t even find the time to READ a book her daughter is interested in, but she has the time to THANK some stranger whose opinion she is going to value above her daughter’s – or HER OWN! Really?
This has me furious!!!! Maybe my parents trusted me, and that’s why they never prohibited me from reading any book I wanted to (and as a result they raised a voracious reader). I totally get that parents have the right to monitor what their kids read. That’s their job. But to pass judgement on a book BEFORE EVER READING IT? That’s lame. And I told A. Cummings that in the comment I left in response to her comment.
Normally I’d never get into a pissing match with a reviewer (or in this case a commenter to a reviewer). But I had to raise the absurdity of it all. If you’re going to censor what your kids read, how about reading it first? Wouldn’t that be the smart thing to do?
And, I’m assuming that if you read this blog you’ve read LUKE. Is it some hyper sexed up story of teens gone wild? What do you think?
Just wanted to say i agree with you. As a mom of two teenagers, a voracious reader and a writer, i also think it’s absurd that she would censor before reading it. I read Book of Luke, in fact I own it, and i don’t think it’s a ‘teens gone wild’ story.
Coleen, I’m glad you said that. I get that different moms have different “thresholds” (my daughter is 13 and she hasn’t read any of my books, but I know a few of her friends have). But to make a decision before reading a book (and basing your decision on whether or not to let your child read a book on a review) is like a kid saying “I hate broccoli.” Well how do you know? “I read a review that broccoli tastes bad.” No parent in the world would say, “Oh, in that case, you don’t ever have to eat broccoli!”
I hardly think is was a hyper-sexed teen story. Far from it. It is a really accurate description of what goes on in 17-year-old girls minds. Teenage girls think about sex.
Oh My God! They must be stopped! /sarcasm
If there was ever a question about something I wanted to read, my mother would evaluate the book first by reading it herself. When I read that review and subsequent comment on Amazon, I literally rolled my eyes and clicked “Buy”.
Out of 30+ reviews, that was the one that stopped another reader from buying the book. One short 5 sentence paragraph that had sex written every fourth word. *eyeroll*
On a positive note I loved the book! I literally couldn’t put it down so I ended up finishing it it one night! I loved so much in fact I am going to purchase your other 3 books and get started reading them tonight on my kindle!
Great job! And I can’t wait for more from you!
Megan, thanks for posting. I’m glad you liked the book and thanks for planning to order the other three (I hope you enjoy them as much). Everyone has their own opinion, I get that. I’m just glad that yours was way more positive! I have a daughter and I can’t imagine saying, “Hey you can’t read that” without actually reading a book. And she still hasn’t read LUKE (probably because I don’t want her thinking, “oh my god, my mom writes about 17 year old guys being hot??!!” – I think she’d be horrified).
Hey Jenny, as an author of a series of books with a similar sounding title Google alerts e-mails me a lot of links to you. Although I’ve never read your book, as a fellow author I fully understand your frustration.
That said, when I started writing books my publisher gave me wonderful advice and words to live by. They were, “Not everyone is going to like your book. You either live with it or you don’t get into this business.” She also warned me to never get into a dialog with someone who didn’t like my books because it could potentially make me look bad or otherwise be used against me.
You have many, many good reviews on your book. They by far and away outnumber the bad ones. I know it’s frustrating, if not infuriating, but as I said before, not everyone shares our values or point of view, therefore not everyone will like our books.
I write juvenile historical fiction, and I once had a someone at a book signing tell me, to my face, that because my books include ghost characters who take my protagonists back in time they were obviously about the occult and therefore unsuitable for her children. (They’re actually about teaching youngsters real history, the ghosts are simply a catalyst for traveling back in time.) I simply told her I was sorry that she felt that way, but what I didn’t tell her was that she was obviously an absolute moron! Oh well, you can’t fix stupid.
Hi Gayle, I actually have no problem if a reader doesn’t like my books (emphasis on READER). I do have a problem with someone forming an opinion on a book without ever actually reading it, though. Those are two entirely different things. My engagement with the commenter had nothing to do with the review – in fact, I didn’t even engage the reviewer – but rather the person who formed an opinion RO PROHIBIT A BOOK based upon another person’s opinion. We wouldn’t let a child do that (ie. saying, “I hate her because I heard someone else hated her”). To have an adult form such lazy opinions is disheartening when we’d never teach or children to do that very thing.
That said, thanks for posting. Best of luck with your books!
Thanks, Jenny. You too.
I think you might have lost an opportunity to peel a few layers back with Jill, I mean, seriously, you could have had lots of fun with just this comment, “Parents, unless you want your children to be constantly thinking about sex, do not let them read this book.” . . . That just begs a socratic beating.
I was discussing favorite books with another parent recently and started discussing ‘Prep’ by Curtis Sittenfeld and the other parent said ‘I really don’t think THAT is appropriate reading for teen girls’ and went on to say that SHE HAD HEARD that some of the situations were too. . .adult. We were sitting in the bleachers watching a game and . . I didn’t know where to start, seriously, ‘Review by Exerpt’? Is that how you do it? Hey, you know, don’t have your teen read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ that Caufield kid drops the F-bomb, like, all. . over . . place! OMG.
Anyway, good for you confronting the statements, though, as you might gather, I agree with the old saying, “Nothing screams success like having your work denounced from the pulpit”
Greg, I went back and forth on whether or not to even reply to the post on Amazon (it’s here if anyone wants to see the original review and the inane response from the mother who can’t find the time to actually read a book her daughter is interested in vs. taking the opinion of a total stranger on Amazon). I mean, I don’t particularly like Twilight or vampire books, but that’s my opinion and I actually READ the book to figure that out! But my outrage had nothing to do with a review that screams “WARNING” because SHE felt it was inappropriate (although I’ve talked to other mothers of teens who read it and loved it and had their daughter read it), and EVERYTHING to do with someone actually basing the decision to PROHIBIT someone from reading a book because she HEARD things about it from ONE person. My god, if you can’t find the time to read a book for your kid, what the heck CAN you find time for (obvoiusly posting comments to strangers on Amazon, I guess).
Hey, I read books growing up where teenaged characters had sex. And I LOVED them. Which is probably why I would rather read a book than watch TV or play video games as a girl. Fortunately I had enough sense not to think fiction was real life or that a character on a page was actually supposed to be a role model but rather entertainment. Kids are so much smarter than they’re given credit for. And a kid who actually chooses TO READ for enjoyment? They’re pure gold.
i know this is a bit late, but i get how you were feeling and thought i’d share my own opinion. I LOVED Luke, shared it with all of my friends in fact. That book was really adorable and amazing and just a great book all together. I also however read that review. I also got pissy about it, so it makes me smile a bit reading a month or two later bout you reading it too. small world huh? anyway back to the subject, it may just be my issue with authority but i HATE censorship. I understand like not letting a 4/5 year old listen to cuss words or sex, that’s definetly agreeable. But once your child starts middle school and they start to hear stuff, and they really at this point need to know some stuff, i find it ridiculous that parents don’t let thier children read books/ watch movies because i of on or two words. I assure you they’ve seen it before, they joke about it in school in fact and you are certainly not helping them out by sheltering them from how the real world works. Because once they move out no one will shelter them anymore. My parents don’t really censor my reading and am very loose on what i watch (anything that’s not R unless it’s on tv,then it’s censored anyway or if i have or if i have permission). And I read several books a week and am writing all the time, and honestly i don’t like reading detailed sex scenes so I skip them and if a bookr evolves too much aroudn them, oh well there are plenty in the library. Your book only really contains one part with sex in it, and it’s not in detail, so i really see no problem with it, i mean you see worse on cable today. That mother should have read the book and she would have seen that. Anyway, lost my train of thought i actually had intended to say something completely different in this comment, but now i forget what it was. ha i do that a lot. So uh, i loved Luke, Plan B and Rich boys. Haven’t read Local girls yet (was busy with Reading Olympics for a while) but i’ll get to it, promise. Wow, this was a long comment, my deep apologies for busying you for so long. I can’t wait for your next book. xD -luv cassie