As an author, I eagerly await each new review of my novel Fling!, even ones that are less enthusiastic. Today I received my 42nd review of Fling! and I love how the reader framed her observations. She not only briefly summarized what happens in the novel, but she also explained why the narrative is important. In other words, she looked at the work both on its entertainment level as well as exploring what’s happening under the surface, showing the book’s depth as well, a valuable perspective not just for prospective readers but also for me the author.
Most writers will admit that they are learning all the time from their readers, who actually are co-authors of any work. It takes an attentive reader’s perspective to help us to see more clearly the various levels in our fictions. While I know that family relationships are a central component of Fling!, my latest reviewer helped me to see another aspect to these associations. She said, “…the part of the novel that has stuck with me most is its message about the endurance of family relationships. Are we ever really alone?”
It’s a great question, and an important one. It didn’t propel me when I first started writing about Feather, Bubbles, and their family. But as I delved deeper into these connections, I learned how complex our ties are to current and previous generations. We are constantly being visited, either in dreams or in memory, by mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. And these contacts aren’t just happening in a vacuum. To answer my reviewers question “are we ever really alone?” I would have to say no. We’re surrounded by family, whether we acknowledge it or not, in so many ways, including gestures, habits, thoughts. My husband regularly tells me that I look just like my mother or sister when I say certain things.
So thanks to all of those readers out there who help us writers to understand what we’re attempting in our narratives. There really is an art to reviewing, and that’s to enter fully into these stories and show the impact they are having on you. And that’s one reason why your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites have so much value. Each is another window into our work.