Some of you might remember (or not) a while back I invited book clubs to consider reading and reviewing my memoir. I offered to provide free books to the first club willing to not only read my memoir, but also to report back about the experience. Shortly after, I was contacted by Sandy who told me her club was willing and able. I shared with Sandy that I wanted nothing less than complete honesty. Be careful what you ask for, right?
I’m kidding. I love fair, honest criticism and praise, too, of course.
Sandy’s group read my memoir in October. Perfect timing! I sent a questionnaire for the group’s members to respond to. And now it’s time to report back. Okay, it’s past time; I’m slow.
Thank you to all the ladies in this club for reading and sharing so candidly.
The group presently has 10 members (I think), five have had cancer themselves. They all know someone who has. I’m sharing feedback to a few questions I posed that I thought you, my dear readers, might be most interested in. I received feedback from eight club members. The readers’ responses are shared here as they were shared with me; not everyone answered all questions. Two members read Nancy’s Point. (Thank you!) I refrained from commenting on responses. (Yes, this was hard!)
1. When you first read the title of my memoir, what was your reaction, and did it make you want to read it?
- What? Someone said this?
- The title was troubling.
- Unsure, I am a cancer survivor, so not sure I wanted to revisit.
- Curious and unsure
- Not especially
- Intriguing, as a survivor it gave me some sense of comfort being able to verbalize this thinking.
- Yes, I wanted to hear your story.
- Light-hearted; it sounded as if we wouldn’t be too depressed.
2. Did you feel the author was too angry or negative?
- I thought she was very honest.
- Negativity turned to anger that never resolved
- Yes, yes, and yes!!
- Never, as releasing emotion is a survival skill.
3. Do you feel this memoir will help others better understand what it’s like to be diagnosed with breast cancer and/or metastatic breast cancer?
- No one can understand someone else’s experience.
- Absolutely not
- No, not at all, too negative a tone, not uplifting
- Not having experienced cancer, I’d be reluctant to say.
- A book to read after the diagnosis, surgery, radiation, chemo as there’s a little more fear and anger expressed which is good to acknowledge but not to get stuck in the difficulties.
- I do. I knew very little.
- Yes, but each person’s experiences and personality will personalize her thoughts, understandings and feelings.
- Certainly from a procedural point of view
4. Will you recommend this book to other individuals, support groups, cancer libraries, book clubs?
- Yes, the more shared experiences the better.
- Yes, one learns the entire process of breast cancer.
- I’d decide on an individual basis.
- No, it’s too negative.
- No, it’s not a reflection of my experience.
- Yes, because of your honesty and because I love memoirs.
5. Sum up this memoir in two or three words.
- One woman’s loss
- Honest, gripping, emotionally encompassing
- Pragmatic, heartbreaking, realistic
- Very informative
- Informative, detailed, negative
- Defensive, specific
6. What is your biggest take-away from this book?
- I’ll continue to hope not to get breast cancer.
- Sharing your personal story is wonderful and helps lighten the load.
- Breast cancer can be cured if found early – have your mammogram.
- It’s okay to have dark thoughts and feelings. Cancer doesn’t always have a happy ending. When anger and negativity can’t be resolved, get help.
- Everyone has different experiences.
- I felt profoundly sad that Nancy isolated herself from every opportunity to create a positive event in her life. This should have been a bonding time between she and daughter, she and her sisters and she and other patients. If you want to live, sometimes you have to fight for your life. I get a hospital news letter which occasionally runs a cancer patient’s story. Your story and theirs – very similar. Choose life no matter the struggle.
So, that’s a sampling.
At first, my feelings were a little hurt that everyone did not love it. But immediately, okay, almost immediately, I reminded myself that first of all, not everyone likes memoirs, especially cancer memoirs. Secondly, many people will always expect a positive outlook, even regarding cancer.
There was lots more feedback shared, but I don’t want this post to get too long.
My main conclusion based on the feedback:
Half the group felt I was too negative, wouldn’t recommend the book and so on. This is probably a good reflection on how people in general feel about cancer stories, including mine. Half prefer to read the uplifting, find-the-lesson sort of cancer story, while the other half appreciates the not-so-positive outlook sort as well.
I’m okay with reaching half. For now.
Thank you again to all the ladies who read my memoir and generously took time to share honest feedback. I very much appreciate it. I want to stress that all the ladies were supportive and more than willing to read and share. They even agreed to pose for the photo below. And a special thank you to you, Sandy. You’re a gem.
Note: If you belong to a book club and are considering my memoir for your group’s selection, email me for special deals on bulk purchases. I’d give away more if I could, but…
Do you read cancer books? If you do, please share a favorite or two.
Does the title of my memoir make you want to read it? Why or why not?
Do you belong to a book club?