The Breaking of the Shell gets slated

There is always going to come a time when, if you decide to put your head above the parapet, someone is going to shoot at you. I’ve just been shot. Several times from the looks of things.

This absolutely damming review of the book just appeared on Goodreads and Amazon. Now of course I’d love everyone to love my books. A part of me would love to hear nothing but great praise and congratulatory messages. But then where would the learning and fun be in life if all we ever heard was how marvellous we were? After a while I sense I’d be craving for someone to challenge me.

So Katie Stevens I thank you. I thank you for writing the book off as a ‘poorly disguised self-help book masquerading as a novel’.  It is absolutely about giving people the opportunity to see life differently through the use of story; it is about giving people the chance to change through the use of a fictional setting. I thank you because you remind me that what you have described there is ultimately the truth; it is a self-help book written as a novel. That was the whole point. That is why we describe it on the front cover as ‘an alchemy of truth, fiction and spirituality’. Those words were chosen very carefully. Paulo Coehlo has sold over 50 million books doing precisely that (and no I’m not suggesting for one minute that my writing is on a par with the great master of parable).

I could go through the other details of the review and counter each one but see little value in doing so, as I don’t suspect it would achieve much. Save to say that your summing up that “Apparently the exciting climax of this book is supposedly the earth-shattering discovery that listening to other people and engaging with them makes the world a better place and people happier with each other and themselves” – may seem a degree in the obvious to you, but to me it is something that I sense we all need reminding of daily in juggernaut size measures. If it’s such a great idea, why isn’t everyone doing it? Maybe this story can help some people engage with the significance of that?

I’d also suggest that you have maybe missed a few other themes that the story raises along the way, including some of the most sgnificant of all,  but then that is not surprising if the book upset you as much as you say.

So, does this make me doubt whether I was right to write this story? Criticism should always make us reflect, and reflect I have been. I come away from this thinking that this stirred something in Karen as she ended up writing so much about it. Clearly her buttons got pressed. Is that a bad thing? I guess I’d rather have written a book that encourages in-depth responses than one that just gets a quick’yeah, it was good’ response.

So Karen, I don’t think I’ll stop writing; but maybe you won’t be entering a competition in the future to win one of my books!


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