Book Review: What She Knew, by Nadine Galinsky Feldman

Liz Nabor, a woman in her 40s living in Manhattan as a money manager, with a perfect boyfriend and a perfect apartment and basically a perfect life, but everything is so perfect that it made me dislike the story from the beginning, because it simply feels fake and distant.

I think this was the biggest issue I had whilst reading What She Knew, because I could not relate to the character in any way and I ended up almost hating her. This did not only have to do with the character’s lifestyle, but with the character itself. She is in her mid-forties although she acts like she is in her mid-twenties, and when the trouble starts to come she proceeds the most un-professional way possible: avoiding the problem thinking it may solve itself.

The problem in this case is a lot of drama that does not get solved. Someone very important gets involved in a corruption scandal and so Liz’s firm freaks out because this person in question may be involved with one of Liz’s clients. Then Liz’s aunt is dying and, even though apparently they have not spoken for years, she leaves the city to spend her last days with her, avoiding her job, her clients and her boss. And do not expect the author to explain where the problem comes from between her and her auntie, because all you have instead is a vague explanation that does not feel enough for someone to just stop their relationship like that.

Now combine all this with a poor editorial work. You will find too many explanations that do not add anything of importance to the story and just make it boring and repetitive. These explanations slow down the story when what the story needs is to go way faster, because if a character’s life is disbanding, you cannot have this character just thinking about her problems over and over again and not doing anything about it, as she simply turns off her phone and goes running. I could not stop thinking how she got so far with that approach to life, honestly.

“All this happens while the West Coast is greeting the day. Liz, innocent of  what’s to come, lounges on the sofa, sore from the day’s work bending, stooping, and sorting. She grabs one of  her aunt’s journals and leafs through it.”

Of course she falls in love whilst being away with a handsome and loving man, and when she comes back to Manhattan there you have it, all the problems solved, magical happy ending.

I appreciate the hard work and I know how difficult it is for an author to self-publish a book, but I believe that if this book had had a second editor behind it, it would have been different and, well, better.

If you are a money manager with a perfect life, go read it. It is a simple story, with simple writing and basic characters, and I am afraid that I have to be honest and say that it is definitely not for me.

On Online Publishing

Getting a book published nowadays is undeniably easy, as you can just go online and create your own editorial and edit and upload your own book yourself. In the US only there are in between 600.000 and 1.000.000 books published every year, and going up. You can imagine the global figures.

This is fascinating, as this means that there are millions of people writing books every day. These books are being made accessible for everyone to read online and the possibilities are endless. This gives the author total autonomy on their book, from beginning to end. And this may sound idyllic, but, with all honesty, this is making more damage than good to the publishing industry.

I don’t think it is necessary for me to relate here how the book industry sales are actually declining, how hard it is for an author to have their book on an actual bookshelf on an actual store, and let’s not talk about having a best seller.

My thoughts on massive publishing and why it is not a recognized market has nothing to do with statistics. The problem comes with non-controlled releases and how this affects the quality of what is being published, because literally anyone can publish a book online right now.  Most of these online publications have been rejected by proper editorials, and, being harshly honest, there are books out there that simply should not exist.

And now you will say: “But there is a lot of good authors that are not being recognized and this gives them an opportunity to stand out by themselves without having to wait for a miracle”. Yes, indeed. But this also gives really amateurish authors the freedom to publish books poorly edited, making it even harder for brilliant authors to stand out in between the mess.

What I intend to say is that I have always thought that the editing of a book is almost as important as the story itself. If you write a book and you do not have a good editor behind it, that book will never be a master piece, as authors tend to be sentimentally attached to their job and stubborn when it comes to changes, meaning they will leave their book as they feel looks right to them, but not to the expected public.

I am not saying that this market should disappear, or that these new authors should stop writing books. I want to encourage authors to keep on writing, to keep on publishing, as the freedom of speech is one of the most sacred rights we have nowadays, something that has been really hard to achieve and which is still being watched closely by overly-offended people. So keep on creating, but learn from your mistakes, do not rush into publishing your work, do not take bitter reviews personally, and appreciate quality over quantity, as this is what will give you recognition at the end.