I don't want to lie...but

An acquaintance of mine asked me to review her book on a topic that I have personally dealt with. I told her some of my experiences, and she insensitively included them in her book (w/out naming me, but I know it was my experience). She said I was stupid for fighting a PE requirement in college before I began classes. We both are physically disabled, and I can’t do PE without a high chance of me falling and hurting myself (I’ve broken 3 bones just in random falls before I was 18). My parents did not want to risk my safety doing 6 PE classes (3 credit requirement, classes were .5 credits) so we fought it and got a waiver. The classes didn’t count towards the students’ GPA anyway. I get that she is entitled to her opinion and don’t wish to confront her about it.

She includes a few other of my stories in her book, not naming me, of course. I am angry she knew they were in there and still asked me to read it while criticizing my decisions.

I no longer wish to review her book, but I don’t want to tell her the real reason as she is a very difficult person to deal with. I can’t say I am busy with work as I am not working currently, and with my disability, I am basically a shut-in. I don’t know what to tell her. Reading the book now makes me anxious and upset as I find it really condescending, and I really don’t want to read more of her opinions about me.

I already struggle with anxiety and this is triggering more symptoms that I really don’t need to be dealing with.

Any ideas of what I can tell her?

Is this a book that this woman intends to publish?

If yes, then you must tell her what you think. If you do not, you will have no right to complain once it is published. By having you review it, she may be giving you an opportunity to ask her to reconsider or amend certain sections regarding yourself, or to clarify your position on these issues.

If this woman is so difficult, why share these experiences in the first place? Now that you have, I think you should explain to her how you feel about what she did with your information. It will, at least, let you establish a boundary for the future.

Yes, she does. I honestly do not care if it is in the book; she is self-publishing. I’ve had some experience with the industry and such books are usually not successful.

I was naive when I shared with her a paper I wrote for a senior project which detailed my experiences. She turned very critical of me when I didn’t “work hard enough” to find employment post-college. I could not have predicted she’d do this when I shared it with her. Since then I had blocked her on social media but was still curious about the book so I agreed. If I had know this was going to happen, I would have done things differently.

I don’t want confrontation; I just want out of whatever it is she is trying to play me for.

What is the mode of communication between you? If you have some written means - email, sms, even a letter - you could write a brief but pointed note, something like this:

“I have read part of your book now and am disappointed by the way you have recounted some of the experiences I shared with you, and your criticism of some choices I have made. I will not object to you publishing these anonymous details, but do not wish to review this book any further, nor discuss my experinces further.”

If you want out, I would be blunt and firm about it. Send a note like the above and resolve not to get into any back an forth on it.

Thank you for the suggestion! I truly appreciate it. This is better than I could think of, and I have been considering this for a while now.

No problem. It is but a suggestion, and other posters may have other/better ideas too.

Anyway, good luck.

What do you mean by “review”? Does she just want your opinion or does she plan to quote you in order to promote her book? If I was in your situation, I would most likely tell her that I started reading the book and I didn’t have anything nice to say about it.

She actually sent a form, two pages, to rate each chapter on things like clarity, relevance, usability, completeness, how to make the chapter a perfect ten, etc. It would be a very intensive task to do this. She did say I could do a “few” chapters. But honestly, it is overwhelming just to think of doing one chapter.

Tell her to hire an editor.

I agree. I’ve done a bit of free editing for acquaintances - never again. It’s hard work. I’ve decided if anyone asks me to edit his writing again, I’ll insist on getting paid. Which is one reason why I’d never do it for a friend! :wink:

Some self-publishing companies will edit the manuscript - for a fee.

Do not do anymore reviews and find a new friend that will not betray your confidence. Trust in one’s friendship is a treasure.

I adapted Underacloud’s suggestion and sent her this:

"I have read part of your book now and am disappointed by the way you have recounted some of the experiences I shared with you (whether they were mine, I am definitely sure they were, if not, I still feel the same), and your criticism of some choices I have made. I will not object to you publishing these anonymous details, but do not wish to review this book any further, nor discuss my experiences further nor anything related to this issue. I will not engage in any further discussion of this.

Best wishes…"

I felt the need to establish a very firm boundary. It was causing me a lot of anxiety, and I already have a medical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, so I really did not need to continue engaging with her. I know she may feel I am a royal…but that’s her issue. I have a difficult time doing such things as this, but I feel I need to cut off contact with her, for my own sanity, if nothing else.

I just hope I wasn’t too harsh…

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