As someone who likes to think that everyone in the world could be my instant friend, it wasn’t exactly reassuring when someone told me that having negative reviews on Amazon gives a book a feeling of authenticity – an indication that not every review is written by a close friend bestowing their support and trying to help boost sales. Naturally, I want everyone to love my book and be encouraged and inspired by it. Anything less than five stars smacks of rejection and reduces me to contemplations of burning the remaining copies and forgetting about the book altogether. Okay, so maybe that’s a little over the top, but I still maintain that perhaps it is a sign of God’s maturing work in my heart that I did not immediately call for a bonfire the other day when I was confronted with the lowest rating yet on an Amazon review – two stars. Sufficiently closer to a one than a five, the fact that it was, indeed, not a one was of little consolation to me.
The primary redeeming factor in the discovery of the double-starred rating is the fact that when I received the review request from the Sacramento Book Review, my expectations were low enough as to render the posting of any review at all in excess of those expectations. Knowing it to be a highly sought-after book review publication, and supposing its reviewers to lean fairly liberal, I questioned whether Pajama School would even make the cut, let alone garner anything akin to a favorable response. So I was actually quite delighted to come across the posted review the other day, and on top of that to see that even though the reviewer – Annie Peters – obviously took issue with the Christian content of the book, she was still fair in her assessment of it. Her words were gracious, yet reflected her honest perspective. I appreciate that and am challenged to strive for the same in my communication with and about others with whom I disagree on various issues and beliefs.
Whether I’m writing a review of some product, expressing my opinion on the policies of a political leader, or remarking on the biblical accuracy of another writer or speaker, I always try to keep in mind that there is a person on the other end. Vitriolic attacks under the guise of self-expression or uncompromising honesty do little to propagate the patience, kindness, and love that should characterize our lives as Christians. We who are the recipients of the unconditional mercy and goodness of God should be the first to express the same in all of our communications – whether it be in daily conversation, via an e-mail, on a blog…or even in a two-star book review.