Book reviews – a roller-coaster ride

This week my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, received six new reviews for a grand total now of 198 reviews since its release in 2011. However, the reviews were not all good – three 2-stars and three 5-stars. Happily though, the week ended with two of the five-star reviews, leaving me with a huge sigh of relief. Even after all this time, my stomach turns over every time I see that a new review has been posted.  I don’t suppose that feeling will go away as long as I put my writing out in public.

New eBook Cover

New eBook Cover

Here are the two five-star reviews that came in, in the last two days. Thank you so much Sara and Joanne. Thank you for sharing your lives with my readers. Your words honor me and my book.

A Must  Read: I found this book when I was still in the early stage of my son being diagnosed, fighting the struggle of his almost everyday behaviors, and at that point I was open to anything. Even with my son being substantially younger than Madeline’s son, the book touched me and although I am fortunate enough to have not lost my son, it is a never fading fear of what may come and oddly enough this story has helped me. I share this book with everyone I encounter, whether it be at NAMI groups, or my sons care team, I even bring it along with me to my parent to parent groups, and believe it or not I have purchased it as a gift for two of my parent advocates who much like myself can relate to the story in some form. Although I do have a son who is suffering from mental illness, this story is not only for individual’s such as myself since it does offer a phenomenal amount of sight for any individual. On that note, I have recommended this book once, twice, a hundred times, and I am proud to do it again.

INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A FAMILY’S STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, SUICIDE, & SURVIVAL: As the mother of two adult sons, one who died by suicide at the age of 30, and one who faces struggles each and every day due to his bipolar condition, I could so relate to Madeline’s story. Sharing our stories, bringing mental illness out of the darkness and into the light, is the only way we can move forward to erase the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Thank you Madeline for sharing such an intimate portrait of your family’s struggle with mental illness, suicide, healing, and hope for the future. You have touched many hearts, mine included.

Joanne and I met at the AFSP Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk in June,. She's in the second row on the left.

Joanne and I met at the AFSP Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk in June. She’s in the second row on the left.

And in view of how I cringe when a bad review comes in, I still love this quote:

“Nearly every writer writes a book with a great amount of attention and intention and hopes and dreams. And it’s important to take that effort seriously and to recognize that a book may have taken ten years of a writer’s life, that the writer has put heart and soul into it. And it behooves us, as book-review-editors, to treat those books with the care and attention they deserve, and to give the writer that respect.” – Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor in a “Poets & Writers interview.

Something all reviewers (not just book-review-editors) ought to think about when they write a book review.

Please tell me your review stories – the good with the bad.

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