No One Else Can Have You
by Kathleen Hale
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Okay, so I read it. It took me way too long to read it but, you know, college and I’m taking five classes this term. Right now, I’m reading more college textbooks than anything else. It sucks.
Anyway, thanks internet. *shakes fist at computer*
As I read this book I kept being reminded of this time when I was a kid and the Catholic church felt that hell was going to rain down on Earth all because of a movie called The Last Temptation of Christ
. My parents loaded us up in the car and we drove 40 miles to the nearest college town, where the movie was playing, just to watch it. I thought the movie sucked. If The Church had kept their damn mouth shut, no one would have gone to see this movie. But my interest in all things with controversy surrounding them was firmly planted and so I have watched a lot of mediocre movies and read a few mediocre books. I’ve also stumbled across a lot of really great books and movies, too.
So, what’s that got to do with anything, right?
I had never heard of Kathleen Hale until I happened across her article detailing her obsessive reaction
to a bad and inaccurate review of her book on Goodreads. I found her article interesting enough that I clicked over to Goodreads to: a) check out her book, and b) see if I could read the offending review. I read the publishers write up and thought, “hmmmm.” I breezed through some of the reviews and thought, “meh.” I looked for the offending review and couldn’t find it. Whatever. I’m out.
A day or two later, I noticed that the internet seemed to be coming apart at the seams. A response
to Ms. Hale’s article had been posted. People were outraged (okay, they still are). I clicked back over to Goodreads to look at the book. The page had exploded with 1-star reviews from people that were flat-out stating they weren’t going to read the book, they had burned their copy, the author kills puppies (wait, what?), etc., etc. (For the record, the author did not kill puppies. The author wrote a satirical piece written from the point of view of her childhood pets, all of which are now dead. That’s stretching it guys.)
That goofy looking sweater cover was starting to look a bit shiny. Hmmmm
Twitter was melting. Everyone had something to say (mostly negative, some of them passive aggressive) about Kathleen Hale. A person would have needed whatever god it is that they believe in to save them if they tried to defend her. (A list of supporters to blackball does not do ANYTHING to help reviewers argument that authors are the ones that are doing bad things for readers.)
I’m not really sure how I should feel about the whole brouhaha. I did finally see the review that sparked Ms. Hale’s obsession.
But it wasn’t a review. I was a series of Goodreads status updates. It does contain inaccurate information, possibly do to a misreading of a few pages of the book. I’m sure someone is going to tell me I should be outraged that Ms. Hale stalked this person. I’m not. I think she should have skipped the showing up at the reviewers house part but I see no problem with outting a person that was using someone else’s online persona as her own. Using a pseudonym is one thing. Using someone else’s identity across several social media platforms is something else. Although, I’m not sure I would call it identity theft.
Well, by this time I just had to read the book to see what all the hate was about. (I’ve realized that I only do this when the hype goes south around a book or movie. If all the hype is positive around something, I loose interest.)
So, the book:No One Else Can Have You
is supposed to be a dark comedy about 16-year-old Kippy’s search for the murderer of her best friend. I think the publisher equates it to the movie Fargo. A movie. *sigh* Although quirky in spots, I don’t think it worked overall. I found myself thinking, more than once, this would make a better movie.
I’m not normally a big review reader for a couple reasons. First of all, I have found reviews on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever else skewed from the get go. Secondly, I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much. Unfortunately, I read many reviews about No One Else Can Have You
and some things stuck with me as I read.
I was not pissed off by Kippy’s trivializing comment about PTSD (something about a “post war flip out”). Why? Well, she’s 16-years-old. What does she know about anything? I’m a veteran. I live with PTSD. I’ve heard adults say worse.
Jokes involving domestic violence? Yes, there is one. Kippy and Davey use the ruse that he is her abusive boyfriend to attend a support group. Someone tosses out something like: maybe next time you’ll hug your girlfriend rather than beating her (NOT A DIRECT QUOTE sorry, I didn’t go back to look for it). It’s a bad joke. I’m not even sure that it’s a joke. See, there are real life assholes in the world that say jackass things like this. Some people even think they are funny. Hmmmm the author put something in her story that might make it seem believable. The. Horror.
Cloudy Meadows. I think I am the only one amused with the name of the mental institution. I also think this is were a lot of people wanted Ms. Hale to write a very different book. This is not a book with social commentary on the mentally ill. It’s a book with a mildly amusing plot point that involves an involuntary commitment and escape. I read nothing truly offensive here and I wonder how many people would have found these scenes funny had this been a movie vice a book.
Here’s something that I haven’t seen anyone else comment on: interest in Norse mythology equals racist Aryan Nazi. Now that makes me respond with a Fuck You.
Overall, I thought the book was just interesting enough to keep going. I would call it an airplane book as it can be read quickly. Had I found it on my own, without the help of controversy, I would say that by next year I won’t remember much of it. Thanks to all the hate, I don’t know that how long it will hang around in my head but probably longer than it should. I thought it was a decent first book from a new author and her craft will improve as she writes more books.
For those of you that wish Kathleen Hale nothing but ill will, I suggest that you just stop talking about her. I am proof that your outrage will gain her book sales.
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