I received a couple of absolutely horrendous reviews lately, two of which were 1-star destroyers. I don't know to what to attribute this, perhaps the summer heat and global warming that make everyone snappy and nervous.
Or maybe, of course, I just truly write so horrendously bad books that they deserve to be called "worthless trash." The person who wrote the latter removed the review, though, after I contacted them and explained nicely why the book covered certain aspects and wasn't written the way they thought it should have been. So that wasn't so bad.
Update: my books' reviews have been trolled by 1-star reviews and I've been so badly harassed after I published this post, that I had to, among other things, remove the link from my blog on Goodreads and close down the "questions to the author" option as well. I guess those who habitually trash other people's writing find it impossibly hard to deal with any kind of criticism themselves. This, however, just further proves the point of this post.
The second 1-star review, however, was as vicious as it gets and I feel the need to discuss it because that kind of reviews are a reflection of everything that is wrong with our society and what I discussed in my book Writing to Heal the Pain: Stories & Poems. I'm including it here so that you can see what I'm talking about (you have to read the book, though, to fully understand what's the issue with this and similar reviews).
I put an emphasis on the parts of this review that may seem innocent but are, in fact, deeply hurtful and insidious. Note how the reviewer Jamie Brydone-Jack insinuates that what happened to me wasn't traumatic, I only (erroneously, I guess) "perceived" it as such. In her opinion, losing my whole career, facing bankruptcy, becoming homeless, and being on the verge of committing suicide was nothing more than "just losing a job" and thus not traumatic.
And then she add that I "perhaps" lost my identity too. Again, she's implying that I might be lying, imagining things, or making a big deal out of nothing. To top it all off, she then states that I shouldn't have shared my experience with the world in the first place! Well, no one has the right to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't write - at least not in a free society.
She gave the book a 1-star review on Goodreads and thus at least temporarily destroyed its rating and damaged the overall rating of all my books too - and why? Simply because she thinks I shouldn't have written this. But of course, what else can one expect from such person.
This kind of attitude is what people who are going through a severe crisis encounter on a regular basis. This is how we are being treated way too often. Our voices and our pain are not allowed to be heard. This instance was far from the first one for me, and, I'm sure, the same goes for many others. Please give this a thought or two.
It took great courage for me to publish this book, to be so open and vulnerable. It took great courage because of the people like this reviewer. People who don't know the meaning of the word empathy, who only know how to judge and destroy without giving it as much as a second thought.
I'm strong now, too strong for someone like Jamie to push me into committing suicide, but there were times when such comments and attitude played a major part in getting me dangerously close to doing it. And there was a time when my colleague actually killed himself and I wonder wasn't perhaps a comment like the ones in this review the last drop that pushed him over the edge.
It might well be so. And I would like you to think about it, to really, really think about this because that's exactly why I published this book. That's exactly why I think our voices, the voices of the suffering and abused need to be heard and people like this reviewer exposed for who they are - abusers who are pushing it too far, way too far.
By writing and publishing out thoughts both the reviewer and I publicly exposed ourselves for everyone to see who we are and what we stand for. The question is, what do you stand for, who do you want to be?
I finally launched Transform the Pain, the service for those who, among other things, need help with dealing with such people. Because there are just too many of them and they are causing enormous damage. If I ever write another book, it will be a guide to help the victims of such abuse - because this review is a form of verbal abuse, and I (as well as many others), have encountered variation on the theme more times than I care to count.