Blog Tour & Review: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say


35704454Title: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: HarperTeengm
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published May 2018


Summary: This provocative and relevant young adult novel is about Winter, a one-time National Spelling Bee Champ with a bright future ahead of her. That all changes after she haphazardly writes a racially offensive tweet that she thought was a harmless joke. What unfolds is a barrage of Internet shaming and rejection from her community and closest friends. Winter seeks to redeem herself, but first must come to terms with what she wrote and understand why there was so much backlash. 

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I'm really glad I did, because I really enjoyed reading this book! If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say is a raw, honest story that is fixated on the age of the internet and how quickly things can take a wrong turn when somebody's words are taken out of context. This book definitely makes you take a hard look at how quickly words can be taken from you and turned into something wounding, regardless of intention, and it's really, really powerful in that regard.

As the summary explains, If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say is about a girl named Winter who finds herself Tweeting a very stupid, very insensitive remark that spirals out of control and takes everything away from her. Regardless of what she may have originally intended, she ends up hurting a lot of people with her racist, insensitive comment. And before long, the internet retaliates. They mock her. Share old, embarrassing photos of her. She finds herself kicked out of her dream college. Unable to get a license. Unable to reach any of the goals she had originally set out for herself because she said something horrible and insensitive that got taken the wrong way and even though she knows that she can never undo the terrible thing she said, she knows she didn't do it on purpose.

The question remains: Does it make her the villain because she said this horrible thing, even if she didn't mean for it to be taken in that context? Or is it not so black-and-white?

I really liked the critical lens this book looked at our generation through. The book itself doesn't really give a clear answer on whether or not Winter was the villain for what she'd done, rather choosing to explore the possibilities of both sides of the argument. It demonstrated really well how quickly something so terrible could spread and damage others, and how quickly internet trolls are willing to step up and tear apart someone that they don't even know. It's something that I've witnessed happen firsthand, and anyone that reads BuzzFeed can relate -- one of those "25 Best Twitter Responses to [Insert Offensive Tweet Here]." The internet can be a quick and ruthless place when it wants to be, and as we all know, people are much, much braver when they're hiding behind a computer screen.

To be clear, that's not saying that these people didn't say or do terrible things. Or that they don't deserve consequences. But this book simply comments on how quickly it spreads in this day and age, and how quickly something can spiral out of control.

Another thing that I really appreciated about this book was the way that Winter's original introduction circled back into the story later on. In the beginning of the book, Winter starts with an introduction explaining why she isn't a good person. I won't spoil the book for you and mention the specific instance that this piece comes back, but all I will say is that it does and it was a nice craft-related reminder. 

This book is really important in terms of discussing public shaming in this generation. It's so, so quick for someone to say something, have it taken out of context and blown up, and to have it go on to hurt a lot of people. The intentions of the words don't matter as much as how people receive them, and that's basically the idea that this book circles around -- the idea that once you put words out into a public space, they stop being your words, and they can affect a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. Which is a really important idea for people to consider and for them to keep in mind when posting things on the internet, in any regard.

The only thing I wasn't super crazy about in this book was Winter herself, at least in the beginning of the story, although I think that was definitely Leila Sales's point, so it has nothing to do with the writing or the quality of the story. It seemed like she spent a lot of the time blaming everyone else for what happened to her (by trying to say that it wasn't her intention for things to get misinterpreted) rather than accepting the fact that she was the one in the wrong. There were several times that I wanted to actually facepalm myself because she just didn't seem to be getting it. But she has a really good character development by the time the end of the book comes around, and you can tell that she really starts to be getting it. So that was really important to read.

Overall, I really enjoyed If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say. I'm a big fan of Leila Sales and her previous books, so I'm glad I got a chance to read this one as well! This book tackles a lot of really important subjects and the severity of the internet age in terms of reputation and the power that words can have to hurt people. I hope people reading this book can take a lot away from this and learn this importance as well, because this book definitely shines a light on public shaming in this internet age. It's really, really important to pay attention to.

I'd like to thank the entire lovely team over at FSG Books (& Morgan!) for allowing me to receive this review copy and to participate in this blog tour. I haven't participated in review-oriented tours in awhile, so it felt nice to jump back into that! And it certainly helps that I was given the opportunity to read such a great book. After all that I've learned in this story, it's definitely opened up my eyes to how quickly a life can be ruined on the internet and how little it takes for words to hurt someone else, regardless of intention. This book made me take a hard look at a lot of things, and I'm extremely grateful for that.

Are you interested in If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say? Then go ahead and scroll up to click the button to add the book to your Goodreads TBR!





4 comments

  1. I've read that this book is not an easy one to read emotionally, but that also makes it more meaningful. It sounds like an important book especially in today's world. I will be adding it to my reading list.

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    1. You definitely should! It's a really important book, and I'm really glad that I chose to pick it up. Happy reading! -Jessica @ The Book Bratz

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  2. Wonderful review! I love that this book seems to provide interesting discourse for such a relevant issue right now. This novel is definitely on my radar. I'm glad to see the protagonist experiences a good amount of development by the end of the novel.

    Thanks for the review!
    - Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

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    1. Thanks! You definitely should check it out if possible. It highlights the dangers of being misinterpreted on the internet and how it isn't excusable to say horrible things, but in some of the cases of the other characters in the story, it helps paint the picture that it isn't always quite a black-and-white issue. Happy reading! -Jessica @ The Book Bratz :)

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