If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say Review
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Pan Macmillan U.K.
Publication Date: 17 May 2018
Source: Pan Macmillan South Africa
Rating: 3 Stars
Goodreads Synopsis :
Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person.
We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things?
When Winter Halperin – former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert –gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life explodes. All across the world, people know what she’s done, and none of them will forgive her.
With her friends gone, her future plans cut short, and her identity in shambles, Winter is just trying to pick up the pieces without hurting anyone else. She knows she messed up, but does that mean it’s okay for people to send her hate mail and death threats? Did she deserve to lose all that she’s lost? And is “I’m sorry” ever good enough.
Pre-reading Thoughts :
I got this book last year and I am finally able to pick it up. Originally, it was supposed to be read in March because it was nice and short. March was also when I had a two-week break from uni. However, that didn’t pan out. I’m really intrigued to see what this book is all about because I am jumping into this one blind.
Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan South Africafor providing me with a copy of this book. Just a quick disclaimer for those reading this review, I have received this book for free. Please note that this does not affect my opinion in any way. All thoughts are my own
The writing pulls you in from the first pages because it makes the reader feel included in Winter’s story. The reader is almost like an active spectator due to the fact that sometimes it seems as though Winter is breaking the 4th Wall and speaking directly to us. This was a great way to keep me engaged in the book and it helped to get through the more difficult parts. The dialogue was good but in some part of the novel, it seemed forced. There was some detail, but I felt like it was brushed over and not enough to create a concrete image.
The plot starts off with a kind of explanation of what is to come. It immediately puts the reader on the more sympathetic side of things. It is clear that this book is a serious one. It’s more a statement or a comment than a book that you simply pick up to enjoy. The content was difficult to read in the sense that you can see this happening to anyone. It can’t just happen to specific people, although influencers are more likely to get affected by similar events that take place in this book. The plot felt as though it had a purpose in the beginning. Once that purpose had run its course, things started to change. The pacing slowed down and personally, there some parts that I wasn’t invested in.
Winter is portrayed as this perfect good girl. At least it’s something that she likes to repeat to everyone after she tells them what she did. As readers, we never really see her attempt to embody that image. There is nothing in this book that actually shows me that she is a typical good girl. But beyond this, you never actually see Winter acknowledge that what she said was wrong (this is definitely a topic that anyone can argue). There is without a doubt that she is sorry, but her actions beg the question of if she didn’t go viral, would she even realise that what she tweeted was wrong?
Overall, I definitely think that this book covers a very important topic. However, I am sitting in this position where I liked half of it and the other half I didn’t like, or I wanted to see something different. The writing grips you from page one but it also strategically puts you in a position where you sympathise with Winter. My biggest issue with this book is that Winter never outright says that she understands that what she said was wrong. Instead, she constantly insists that she is sorry and has definitely learnt from her lesson. However, moving beyond this, the novel address call-out culture in a way that forces people to be in the shoes of the person being attacked. It creates awareness for how people tend to attack first instead of questioning. At the end of the day, this was a very insightful read. Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan South Africa for providing me with a copy of this book!
Yours in Reading,