I’ve read 5 books between Slaughterhouse-Five & You Know You Want It, all of which still need reviewing.
However, as the author, Carla Robinson (blogging under “Things Carla Loves”), is a dear friend, who isn’t feeling her (insanely intelligent, empathetic, funny, vivacious) self lately, I felt this deserved a bump up the schedule.
Also, she did something amazing as an indie author that I feel merits discussion. BUT FIRST –
- Carla is one of the first people I connected with on WordPress. We’ve never had the pleasure of meeting in person (yet!), but I consider her a dear friend.
- I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book & asked to give feedback. I got about a chapter in before life got in the way. While Carla says that feedback was helpful, I will kick myself for not giving it my all – possibly for the rest of my life.
- She made this book available at no cost to readers, which is why I was able to get my copy after she published it.
- Carla asked me, directly, to be savage where I thought appropriate. She might not have used those words, but she made it clear she wanted my honest opinion.
- I love my friends. Regardless, I believe in honesty – even when might not be what they want to hear. So, really, I appreciate her giving me carte blanche, but I think she knew I’d be honest if she hadn’t. (All my friends know not to ask me, “Does this outfit make my butt look big?,” let’s put it that way.)
Phew, OK. Now you’re ready for the nitty & the gritty, after a brief word from our sponsors.
THERE ARE SPOILERS!
You Know You Want It, first & foremost, raised so many feelings in me. Devastation, sadness, emptiness, hope, &, yes, a bit of trauma-awakening.
I’m not sure that last one is actually an emotion, but I felt it. I think many victims will feel the same. I also don’t think this a book where an explicit trigger warning is necessary. The tagline (“Caitlin drank. And flirted. And kissed him. And went back to his place. What did she expect? Popcorn and pillowfights?”) makes it abundantly clear.
In fact, I think the tagline is a creative way of getting a trigger warning to readers. Many of us think it needs to be a blurb somewhere before the text starts. Carla, instead, put it on the cover that, yes, this book will be upsetting to sexual assault victims.
I loved how the main character – Caitlyn or Cait – grew from the start of the book to the end.
At the beginning, I couldn’t stand her. She was immature, overly concerned with appearances, & desperate for everyone’s approval.
However, by the end, she was disinterested in how she looked to others. Sure, she was still going through the tail end of the depths to which her trauma had plunged her. Sure, she was angry & that anger hurt those who loved her the most.
But, that’s what made it so damned genuine.
(Now, normally I refuse to curse online. I’m concerned with the impression my words could have on future job possibilities. I think this occasion deserves a deviation of form. The character’s reactions seemed so real.)
As with reality, there were good & bad reactions from Cait’s loved ones. The book showed that reactions to trauma – whether experienced or witnessed – are wildly varied. Some of it was great & how you feel people should react when someone assaults a loved one. Some of it was a real “WTH were they thinking” reaction.
It all goes to show how there’s no one way a person reacts to trauma.
As with all self-published works, there were some mistakes. Mistakes happen to all of us, especially a first-time author whose friend didn’t read their ARC & offer feedback. However, I only noticed a couple. They didn’t detract from the power & truth of the book.
As Promised – What Carla did that I Thought was Amazing:
Carla offered her book, through a couple of social media sites, for free. She had a traditional drawing, offered it for free in her home country (Australia), & then offered free eBooks to the general public.
She didn’t demand anything from readers who got her brainchild for free. However, she did ask for her readers to review the book. If they loved it, she wants them to review it. If she hates it, she wants them to review it.
This is brilliant, in my opinion, because it gives Carla:
- Feedback (especially from people who might not otherwise be able to give it)
- A wider audience
The truth – for the good or bad of it – is that reviewing a subject brings it higher in search results. Someone could hate your book & trash it online, only to have that negative review bring your title higher on Google. Or encourage others to check it out to “see how awful it really is.”
It also tells Carla what her audience wants more or less of in her future works. That information is priceless.
5 out of 5 stars! This was a tough book to read, not because of the language or that it wasn’t interesting. The subject matter was so real & it hit a nerve with me, personally.
However, that’s exactly why it was such a good book. I think Carla’s next works can only improve, due to the quality of her debut novel & the steps she took to get feedback (not to mention visibility).
Go read this book – you know you want it! (Just make sure, if you’re a victim of assault, to be sure you’re ready for graphic, heart-wrenching, truth.)