The unspoken pressure of writing #ownvoices reviews

Recently, I’ve been kind of stressed.

Particularly surrounding writing my review on a particular book called Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed which most of you have undoubtedly heard of in the YA book community.

I started writing it a while ago, way back in January, because I read it then and I was so excited! I have almost all of it done, yet… I just haven’t been able to publish it.

I’m HELLA NERVOUS. And stressed. And it’s ridiculous, cause, well, it’s just a book review, right? I’ve never had troubles posting a review before.

THIS POST IS ALREADY STRESSING ME OUT

But see, the thing is, Love, Hate, & Other Filters is one of the FIRST times I’ve written a full-length #ownvoices review (on an #ownvoices book). (I’ve previously read Saints & Misfits though which I also identified with, but didn’t write a full review on.)

Sure, yes, it’s extremely freeing to be able to write on something that’s so close to what I’ve lived through myself, and I of course want to share my thoughts on a book that may (or may not have) properly represented marginalized people.

But the thing is, it hasn’t been that easy for me.

And that’s what I wanted to talk about, because this topic has been stressing me out and making me panic every time I read over my review, and that’s not okay. 

Why writing ownvoices reviews are stressful.

In theory, sure, yes, I just write a normal review, you know, just like I would any other review, yes? Which is still hard but whatever

Yet that’s the thing: I feel like I can’t treat it like any other review because I’m writing from an #ownvoices perspective. I don’t know if it’s just me putting unnecessary and invisible pressure on myself, but somehow, writing this review on Love, Hate & Other Filters is infinitely harder than me writing a review on any other book.

Why? Well, let me give you a list because otherwise this will be an even larger mess.

There is a social expectation that you know what you’re talking about/ are a trustworthy source on the representation in a novel.

Slkwejflkjwkjefj this drives me crazy because I know I’m totally guilty of also relying on ownvoices reviews to be a reliable source on marginalized rep in a book. It makes sense, of course! The best people to speak for a book’s rep on a minority population are the people who are part of that minority, not people who have no experience living as part of that group. Of course. You can’t ask a human what it’s like to be a turtle, you can’t ask non-marginalized people what it’s like to be marginalized. Simple.

Yet, I feel like that also places so much pressure on the ownvoices reviewer to be 100% correct and reliable on what they’re saying, because other readers who are not part of that minority will look to the reviewer for indication on good rep.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but … am I the only one who sees that unspoken pressure there?? It feels like there’s much less room for error for those reviewers, especially because there’s not always many of them in the first place, and so there’s more pressure to be “right”?

I would feel AWFUL if I said something (that I believed to be true) and a reader trusted me on it, only to have it be perhaps contrary to other valid opinions, or if someone was harmed while reading the book. (*More on this later!)

Not to mention…

Everyone has different experiences.

Just because I’m a Muslim, it doesn’t mean my experience as a Muslim is identical to every other Muslims out there. Just because I’m a POC, it doesn’t mean my experience is identical to other POCs.

We all have different experiences.

I just feel like, with some things, there are people who have a preconceived notion of what the experience of a particular minority should be like, and can enforce those notions on the book, even when it might not be so for the author’s or the character’s experience?

Especially with an #OwnVoices novel, the author is sharing (some version) of their experience, or their background, or knowledge. So if my experience doesn’t match the one in the book, does that automatically mean the book is in the wrong? Or that I am? That either one of those experiences are invalid?

No.

But the issues comes when reviewing, making that distinction between your OWN experience affecting your opinion of the book versus the book itself.

Of course we have every right to dislike a book if the rep was inaccurate. But can you always truly ascertain if the rep was such based on your own experiences? Just because I didn’t see myself represented in the narrative, how can I say that the rep wasn’t good/bad? When there are so many different experiences for everyone, or if the book is ownvoices?

So many rhetorical questions, I know, but seriously, this is the heart of the issue I face, content-wise.

I feel like, because books featuring diverse leads are so hard to come by, we put all our hopes and expectations for what we WANT to see on the few diverse books (for a particular minority group) that ARE published. And when they’re not met, we’re disappointed.

Which is 100% valid as well! Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in books! And it’s normal to want to project your wishes on a particular book when those types of books are so far in between.

But one book with a marginalized main character, is just ONE BOOK with a marginalized main character. It’s not fair to ask one book to represent all of us when there are so, so, SO many different experiences out there.

Who’s to say my experience is wrong, or someone else’s opinion is wrong? No one. Everyone’s ownvoices experience is allowed to be different. It doesn’t make anything less valid.

See, if we take Love, Hate & Other Filters as an example, I personally did not fully relate to the Muslim rep. It felt brushed aside, and didn’t always take it very seriously, despite being a huge selling point of the novel.

But every Muslim’s experience is different! Can I truly say that, because I didn’t personally relate to Maya’s actions and thoughts, that it was bad or inaccurate? I don’t feel like I have that right. I speak for MY experience, not for anyone else’s, so who am I to say, really.

Because sometimes, the things the reviewer is attacking or criticizing are things that someone else relates to, and that can be hurtful! I’m not saying not to be honest; our opinions as reviewers are valid and you shouldn’t have to hide them.

But there has to be a way to express your own feelings and experiences without belittling or looking down on other experiences; you don’t need to sacrifice your honesty to be considerate.

Relating to certain representation where most people don’t or not relating to certain rep where most people do

Jjkjaksdjklasjd being a black sheep is already difficult enough, okay. I think in this community though, it is possible to find others that feel the same way as you about any book, even the most popular ones, but at the same time, there’s always that odd discomfort when everyone is raving about a book or everyone is disliking a book that you hated/enjoyed.

It’s just awkward???!

And as rebellious we all like to think ourselves to be, that want to fit in and have people with the same feelings as you will still be there, you know? At least for me.

That’s true for any book, but it becomes even more so with diverse books where there’s also the question of proper representation. Of course I want more diverse books, but I don’t want them at the cost of misrepresenting anyone? It’s just such a disservice, and so harmful, and just DON’T DO IT.

But this ties back into the whole different experiences thing, because what one person didn’t enjoy, or thought was inaccurate, could actually be something that resonated with you a lot. Or it could be the other way around, what they loved was something you didn’t enjoy at all.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, at all! Different perspectives are crucial and important and they’re all to be considered.

BUT IT’S STILL STRESSFUL TO BE A BLACK SHEEP.

Especially with the whole feeling like you’re meant to be a reliable source on this? What if you loved it but someone else/majority hated it, or vice versa? Of course it’s valid, but it’s also incredible nerve-wracking. 😳😅😂

The fear of backlash + being hurt from other reviews

OF COURSE I want to share my thoughts on the book. OF COURSE my opinions are valid, and acceptable. OF COURSE I should be free to express my opinions without worry. I know this.

But the internet can be VICIOUS, and, although I’ve never had to deal with a hateful comment in the blogging community myself (because y’all are so lovely!!), I certainly don’t want that to change now, and I don’t want to be on the receiving end of someone’s hate. I just don’t.

Rationally, I know that probably won’t happen, that I’m making this out to be bigger than it really is, but writing that review is personal, to me. I don’t often talk about my culture or background, ethnicity, or religion, because I haven’t always been that comfortable with discussing it. I haven’t always gotten the best reactions in the past.

I see things in other reviews, for any book, where reviewers comment on things that were ‘unrealistic’ or that they hated about the main character. And the thing is, sometimes, and this ties back to my last point up there, I related to that aspect they hated so much. Maybe it’s exactly what I do myself.

So yeah, not gonna lie, that freaking hurts. A lot. Even if I know it’s not directed towards me, or that it’s unintentional, when it comes to part of my identity, ouch, okay. That’s all I’m going to say.

I’m not trying to gather pity or suddenly make your paranoid if you’ve criticized a character for something others might relate to, (because God knows I’ve probably done this as well)!! But another stressful thing is worrying about how people will take the review, if you’ll be accepted, or if people will claim your opinion as invalid?? IT’S SCARY.

That’s honestly one of my biggest fears when it comes to reviewing, for any book; that I may unintentionally hurt someone due to my own biases and experiences. Please tell me if I ever do this!! It is never my intention, I swear. 💕

Basically, to sum it up:

  • Social expectations are freaking HARD; there seems to be a sort of expectation that because you’re #OwnVoices, you know what you’re talking about and many people look to you for the green light which means there’s a smaller room for error
  • Everyone has different experiences which make it difficult to accurately comment on the rep; the question is, if the rep doesn’t match what you’re familiar with, is it still okay/good rep?
  • Being the black sheep is stressful when there’s a smaller community of OwnVoices readers; liking rep others dislike or disliking rep others like leads to possible backlash or insecurity
  • Tying everything together: with social expectations, the complications of considering more than just your own experience, and facing the opinions of others, who may or may not agree with you, writing that review can be extra difficult

So will I ever post my Love, Hate & Other Filters review? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s probably one of the most personal reviews I wrote, ever haha and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with it yet? (Maybe after the reactions on this mess of a post haha. )

But I hope this post explains more on why that is? I don’t know if this is only a me thing, if I’m imagining this pressure when it comes to writing an ownvoices review? (These could totally apply for non-diverse review-writing as well; it’s just that I personally struggle the most with this one.)

I tried to make this post as cohesive as possible, and I want to just say as a disclaimer this is just MY OWN EXPERIENCE. You can of course disagree with me, but please be respectful!! My heart probably couldn’t take it otherwise 😂 (Underneath my scary exterior, I’m actually a huge baby)

I would be seriously impressed if you managed to stay interested in this whole post for the entirety of it!! I’m sorry if I rambled, if I was contradictory and confusing. What are YOUR thoughts? I know I am basically TOO PARANOID and might be *slightly* (hehe) overreacting about this, but I really would love to know what you all think.

If you’re part of a minority and have read a book representing yourself, have you ever felt this sort of pressure? If you’re not part of a minority, but are a book reviewer, have you ever been a black sheep in the book community? (Feel free to spill which book it is!! *waggles eyebrows*) Should I still post my LH&OF review? 

Spread some book love: what is a diverse book you read that you loved, or that represented you?! I’m taking recs!

Talk to me!!! I want to hear from everyone, don’t worry if you’re part of a minority or not, what are your thoughts?!

(I know this post is me overreacting as usual but shhh it’s still stressful)

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32 thoughts on “The unspoken pressure of writing #ownvoices reviews

  1. i relate to this so much it practically hurts! i feel like it gets to me so much that i just want to leave the issue of representation out of my reviews altogether. which brings me to another issue i have–that it feels like those of us who are #ownvoices reviewers are pressured to “always be on guard” and even more than that, to always find an issue, even if that issue is relatively a spec of dust and honestly isn’t that important. like, listen, folks, i’m not your personal metal detector for representation issues, SOMETIMES I JUST WANT TO ZONE OUT AND READ A FREAKING BOOK FOR ENJOYMENT, OKAY?! but then it comes back to bang you on the head when you do that and people from all sides are like “well why didn’t you notice [this one, super minuscule, barely there issue]??? you must not actually care or be a ‘good’ [marginalized person] or even a decent human being if you can’t even notice the most insignificant of things!” it’s awful and it really gets to me a lot of the time and idk maybe i’m being paranoid but still i think we as a community need to have a massive reevaluation of how we treat marginalized reviewers (and marginalized authors too, for that matter).

    Liked by 1 person

    • AHHH I’m so glad I’m not the only one who felt this way! (Though I’m sorry we feel this way at all!) 😭❤️ I know, it makes talking about the rep so uncomfortable. YES. That is so true! And it’s so bad! It is NOT the job of marginalized reviewers to educate, or to be the police on rep or nitpick the book and always have something to critique. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORRY OR NOT WORRY ABOUT THE REP! I don’t want to have to be on a hyper alert for proper rep or not throughout the whole book, it’s an uncomfortable reading experience for me? Because I read to enjoy, not analyze!
      I know! It’s so sad when that happens too, because generally I’ve seen those comments come from either non marginalized people or people not part of that specific minority, like no one has the right to belittle or devalue your opinion, especially if they’re not familiar with the material themselves?? (But that goes for everyone!) And they shouldn’t expect that it’s our responsibility to comment on every single issue just because we’re ownvoices, especially if we didn’t even see it as an issue at all. It is really awful! It’s just so disrespectful and hurtful to the reviewer. 💔 Yes, I agree! I’ve seen some really rude treatment of marginalized reviewers and authors on other platforms and we need to do better. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, this is such an awesome post, Analee! I totally get what you mean by pressure! I think the pressure for reviewers is always there, but in situations like this there’s even more. Posting your LH&OF review is completely up to you, and if you do decide to post it, I can’t wait to read it! (After all, a review is just one person’s opinion on a book, right?) Currently, I have The Hate U Give on my TBR but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! ❤️ Yes, I agree, there is definitely a sort of pressure for all reviewers, but it seems heavier for this matter? I’m glad I’m not making this all up haha. Thank you so much for your support!! The Hate U Give is AMAZING and I can’t wait for you to read it, or, if you have, I really hope you loved it! 🙂

      Like

  3. Interesting post! Here’s my take on reviewing, for what it’s worth. Each book attracts a zillion reviews (assuming it’s successful) and I don’t want to read a million reviews that all say the same thing. What I want to know is how THIS reviewer reacted to it, and why. I’m not in a minority group so can’t speak to that. But I regularly don’t agree with the majority review of books. And you know what? My negative reviews are regularly more popular than my positive ones. People LIKE when they get to read a range of opinions. Even when people don’t agree with me, they love (it seems) the opportunity to discuss why not, and I’ve only very rarely had any kind of rude comment on the blogosphere (and when I do, I just get rid of them – the power of the delete key! Or I’m rude back, depending how I feel at the time… 😉 )

    I think it would be as silly for people to expect all people in a particular minority to have the same experiences or the same reactions to a book as it would be to expect that from members of a majority. Minority or majority, first and foremost we’re all individuals – and it’s that individual voice I want to hear in reviews, not some politically correct viewpoint the reviewer doesn’t actually hold but feels s/he ought to.

    Haha, sorry! But I hope that might encourage you to go with your own voice, and not worry too much about the reaction you’ll get – it’ll almost certainly be better than you think. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Ahh yes, you bring up such a good point, that is definitely true! Seeing different perspectives is interesting and we don’t want to see the same thing everywhere for sure. So true! I’ve seen negative reviews get a lot more attention than positive ones sometimes ahah, and it offers a great chance at discussion. Oh, it’s good that you haven’t gotten many rude comments on the blogosphere! 🙂 It’s how it should be everywhere, but unfortunately it’s not always. (The delete key is definitely useful!)

      I know! We don’t generally expect everyone to have the same opinion on any other book, so it shouldn’t be any different for people in a minority, that they should feel they need to conform to the majority. That is very true!

      Your words are honestly SO encouraging, thank you so, so much for your support!! It means the world. 💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It never really occurred to me that it might be just as stressful for an #ownvoices reviewer to review a diverse book as it is for me, but now that you say it, I guess it probably would be…
    I think the fact is (although I completely get that it’s stressful!), most people read reviews, even #ownvoices reviews, with the fact in mind that it’s only one person’s opinion.
    At the same time, your opinion definitely IS valid, and it IS important.

    I would love to hear what you thought of LH&OF, but if you aren’t comfortable posting it that’s totally fine too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I totally understand that! For any book I review I would expect people to read it with the idea that it’s only one person’s opinion, and there’s no reason to think people would react any differently for an ownvoices review ahah. I just am overthinking things maybe? 😂 But THANK YOU, your words mean so much to me. 💕

      I am working on it! I’m still pretty nervous but it’s important to me and I want to do it. Thank you SO MUCH for your support, Iris!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First off…GIANT HUG!! Or at least…air hugs, if you’re not into real/virtual ones 🙂 I hope you can breathe a little bit easier after posting this, and know that I don’t think many people will think you’re being crazy about this.

    I don’t write reviews (yet), so I can’t say much on that end, but as a writer, I actually do have a whole post about this and honestly, it sounds very similar to what you’re talking about here. That is, the PRESSURE we put on ourselves to be the single mouthpiece for an entire group of people, and how that can affect us. Which is sort of silly when we actually step back because I think, objectively speaking, we all KNOW that we’re going to have unique experiences. That not every person in a minority group is going to have the exact same experiences and thoughts and beliefs as one another. We know this and accept this and don’t mind when someone else doesn’t feel the same way we do. But when it’s OUR turn to be that odd duck out? Yikes. it’s terrifying.

    So I’m really happy you’re writing about this because NO ONE should feel like their experiences are less valid than someone else’s. Like, who even decides who has a lived a more “authentic” minority life? My sisters and I are of the exact same heritage, but they’re both a lot darker than me and have likely faced different situations than I have. Does that mean they’re more authentic to our culture than I am? That my experiences don’t count even though we have the same blood and were raised the exact same way? No. We’re all valid, just different. That’s what I remind myself, and what I hope I can remind others. DIFFERENT, does not mean inauthentic.

    Best of luck, whatever you decide to do with your book review 🙂 Feel better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *GIANT HUGS BACK TO YOU* Ahh yes I’ve definitely felt loads better about this after posting this and seeing everyone’s support!! THANK YOU. ❤️

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone in this? There seems to be an incredible load on the shoulders of diverse readers and writers to represent EVERY SINGLE PERSON of a group and it’s so stressful? Yesss, exactly, oh my gosh. We all know, logically that that thinking is not correct and it’s okay to have different opinions/experiences.. but it’s just so hard to deal with the issue all the same.

      RIGHT??! Just the concept is absolutely ridiculous! It sounds like a joke because how can you even claim that someone’s real, LIVED-THROUGH experiences are not as valid as someone else’s? Ahh yes, exactly! Everyone can go through different experiences, it doesn’t invalidate anyone’s experience in any way just because they don’t all match up. YES. That is utterly perfect, and so true.

      Thank you so much!! 😭💕

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  6. This is such a great post! I totally understand why you might not want to post your review. Reviewing books tends to be stressful, and I can only imagine how much more stress would be added with the pressure of talking about the book from an #ownvoices perspective. I find that in general, it can be hard to review diverse books because you don’t want to accidentally offend someone or try to speak for representation when you’re not part of the marginalized group. In these situations, I usually try to link to a few other reviews to provide some additional perspectives, because just like all aspects of books, not everyone will feel the same way.

    I would love to hear your opinions on Love, Hate, & Other Filters, but I totally understand why you might not post it, and that’s totally fine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Ahh I’m so glad you understand, that means a lot. Yes, reviewing in general can already be so stressful haha. I totally agree! Reviewing diverse books can definitely be tricky if we’re not part of the marginalized group as well; I’ve been so worried in the past if I overstepped or was unaware of something that offends someone. Very true! Finding different perspectives can be super helpful to provide a slightly more objective view on the book as a whole? Because there will of course always be different opinions. And that’s a good thing!

      Ah thank you so much for your support! I’ve still been a bit nervous about it, but I’ve been thinking about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sure a lot of people can relate to you, Analee! I can’t say that I am part of a minority or that I have experienced this particular kind of pressure, but I do feel the same amount of anxiety when I review a book by an own voice author about a representation that I am not part of, because I don’t want to disregard anyone’s experience. I can only imagine how it must feel to review it as an ownvoices reviewer then. The closest thing I have got to this is having to review books with Nazis and WWII seen as I am from Austria, the birth place of one of the most horrible humans out there, but that is definitely not even close to the same.
    I am sure you will find a way to express your thoughts on the book, you always do ❤ just don't forget to take care of yourself and you never HAVE to review a book if you are not feeling up to it. The stress is not always worth it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes, that’s so true!! Reviewing a book by an ownvoices author without being part of that minority is so tricky for me as well, because I definitely don’t want to hurt or offend anyone. Ahh yes, oh my gosh, I can totally see how difficult that might become for you! ❤️❤️ *virtual hug*
      Thank you so much, Kat!! Your support means the world to me. 💕 I’ve been going back and forth between posting the review for so long haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I didn’t know about the term OwnVoices until this post. If I am right, it means books written about or by minorities and reviewing such books as part of the minority group represented. Let me know if I am wrong 

    I do understand the pressure that comes with that. There many times when I read books set in Africa and about Africans that I don’t even relate with at all. As you say, we all have unique experiences and won’t necessary relate with each character/story about people who have similar identities as we do. In addition, we can enjoy books without necessarily focusing too much about the representation. On the flip side, my biggest struggle right now is reviewing books that everyone seems to enjoy but I have issues with the representation. For instance, I recently read a book that all my blogging friends liked and I could see why, the story was good. However, I felt like the African characters were all based on stereotypes and I was pretty nervous about voicing my concerns.

    All the best with your decision about the review, don’t let the pressure stress you too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh sorry, I should’ve thought to mention the definition in my post! Yes. #ownvoices was generally a term used to describe the author, in that the author is writing about a minority that he/she is a part of, just in my post I used it as you describe; the reviewer is part of the minority that is written about in the book. 🙂

      I’m glad I’m not the only one (though I’m sorry to hear that ahah). Yes, exactly! There are soooo many different experiences out there, we’re definitely not going to relate to every single one. Very true! Ahh, yes, that is honestly such a difficult situation! Did you post your review on it? I would love to read it! ❤

      Ahh thank you so much!

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  9. This was such an interesting and important read, thank you! I don’t really write book reviews, but I can absolutely see why you might feel pressured about writing an Ownvoices review. I hope you feel less stressed about it soon, and I am sending you support and internet hugs from here! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m a white girl, so I won’t pretend to know where you’re coming from, but what you’re saying for sure spoke to me. Like you said, there are still so few #ownvoices narratives out there, that when a book like Love, Hate and Other Filters comes out, it is suddenly meant to be a mouthpiece for the entire community its characters come from. As such, it makes sense to me that you would feel like that as a reviewer. For what it’s worth, your feelings are totally valid. The bookish community – for all the good it does, and that is a lot – is AWFUL for expecting people from minorities to speak for Their Entire People, as if that Entire People were One Thing, not, as they so obviously are, lots and lots of different things, because all people are different everywhere even if they do belong to the same group. We’re part of a community that has good intentions, but often goes about things ALL WRONG, in a way that unfairly pressures people like yourself. I don’t really know what we do about that, and I am honestly the last person qualified to talk about it. I hope we evolve over time into a more positive place.

    I hope you post your review. Your thoughts are as valid and important and worth hearing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! YES. It just… it sucks, you know? For the reviewer, and not to mention the author/book, who are suddenly expected to speak for the entire group because it’s still so rare to get more books ft the minority, EVEN THOUGH their only responsibility is to speak for themselves, always. Thank you so much! ❤️ Yes. And I know some/most of it isn’t necessarily intentional, but we do need to do better. I don’t suspect it’s intentional! But a lot of people have a tendency to look to one person to judge on the rep of minorities in the book, even though they can’t speak for their Entire People, as you say. Everyone acknowledges people are different! It’s the same even if people share a part of their identity in common, you know? But people forget that sometimes.
      Ahh yes, this community is wonderful and means well for sure! But there are definitely areas to improve in, I think. Just being more mindful of the way we treat ownvoices books and reviewers can go a long way.

      Thank you so much for your support, Lydia! It honestly means so much. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! These conversations are so important to have. Like you say, a lot of people aren’t even aware that they’re doing it, and the only way change happens is through brilliant and insightful conversations like the one you started with this blog post! x

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  11. I love that you brought up the point that different people have different #OwnVoices experiences. I have seen quite a few attacks on #OwnVoices authors for rep, which strikes me as odd, because that’s their experience. Love, Hate, and Other Filters was reviewed on my blog by Noor (so #OwnVoices on #OwnVoices). I thought she was very honest about how she felt, and that is really all we should expect from bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes! It’s so sad and ridiculous at the same time when #ownvoices authors get attacked for the rep, it’s just so frustrating to see people treat #ownvoices authors badly just because they personally didn’t relate to it. Oh, that’s lovely! I love that you had an #ownvoices reader review the book on your blog, that was so thoughtful. Yes, exactly!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. i support u so much i really hope you know that. this post hit me hard.
    1) my review of LH&OF on goodreads got really popular. i think it’s at the top of community reviews. i was obviously really happy about this but the thing with it gets a lot of likes, is that people…ugh analee, non-muslim folk were telling me “ugh there dosen’t need to be anything about her religion this book is only about Islamophobia” and then their own reviews are like “i watched a channel 4 documentary on how Muslims live so yeah, this was amazing” like?? STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE STOP INVALIDATING MY THOUGHTS
    2) please do post your review of the book. of course, if your not comfortable don’t but i think we need your voices in the blogosphere. so many Muslims related and so many didn’t. i literally just said in my review that i know the author is Muslim herself but these are my personal thoughts
    3) not relating to the ov rep does not equal bad rep obviously but if u didn’t like it thats completely valid

    keep doing what ur doing fellow muslim sis x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh Ilsa thank you!!! I really needed to hear that ❤️❤️😭
      1) I saw that!!! That’s so amazing! But omg that’s absolutely the worst, I can’t stand how non-Muslim people think their knowledge from a DOCUMENTARY is more valid than your own experience?? What bs. I’m so sorry you had to go through that!! YOUR THOUGHTS ARE VALID.
      2) Thank youuuuu so much Ilsa, your support means so much! And yes definitely, there can be different opinions on the book for sure, even if the author is Muslim herself.
      3) Yes, totally! It’s totally valid if you didn’t like it.

      💕💕😘 Tysm!!

      Like

  13. I REALLY REALLY LOVE THIS POST, ANALEE. I REALLY DO.

    I think I’m actually really lucky, because I don’t often face a lot of pressure to represent a whole group of people, or the pressure that comes with people often trusting my ownvoices opinion on a book. I see it in other people, though, which makes me so so sad, because I’m a firm believer that there exists a difference in experience, and actually problematic rep. Actually problematic rep is NOT okay, but rep that you can’t relate to, or personally found incorrect to your experiences? That’s different. (Idk where I’m going with this haha.)

    I think one of the pressures I do face is the certain rep I talk about. Because for me, when I talk about Asian rep, I usually mean Southeast/East Asian rep, because I’m Southeast Asian, but I look like both Southeast & East Asians. So I can’t speak about West Asians’ rep, if that makes sense? Just personally, because we have different cultures and also different appearances! (It’s also why I get a little bit uncomfortable with West Asians getting excited about East/Southeast Asian rep — tho there’s hardly Southeast Asian rep — but that’s honestly a very personal preference kinda thing. Of course, we’re from the same continent and different appearances shouldn’t cancel out the rep we deserve or whatever but… idk.)

    And one last thing, since your post brought up so many good points! I think that as well as pressure on authors to talk about personal aspects of themselves in order to be labeled as ownvoices and therefore somehow “better”, I feel like there’s also a pressure to do that for reviewers as well. For example, I’m queer, but I’m not comfortable yet in talking about my specific orientation (well, with certain people haha). And because people trust ownvoices reviewers more than other reviewers (which is absolutely needed!! but also pressuring!!) AND it’s an unspoken rule that if you don’t belong to a minority, you can’t talk about said minority’s rep, there’s a pressure for me to come out in order to make me “eligible” to talk about certain rep??? Ifjasl;dkfjasldf idk IT’S TOUGH MAN.

    Anyways, after this giant comment, I’d just like to say that you’re amazing and this post is amazing and if you don’t want to post your LH&OF review, you 1000% do not have to. No pressure at all! But please know that we all will support you and try not to put a lot of pressure on you as best we can. ❤

    Like

  14. This is a hugely important post, and I’m so happy someone spoke up about this! I’ve find myself relating to this so many times along the road, and I usually end up simply not posting any #OwnVoices reviews… I’ve had the same issue for a very long time, so I definitely relate ❤
    Great post!

    Like

  15. This is a great post Analee! Don’t worry it’s very well-written ❤️ I definitely see where you’re coming from – the internet can be a scary place and sometimes people can just attack you for no reason, even in the book blogging community (though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on any actual blogs, just on social media? it’s still scary though) but if anyone ever attacks you, I will kick their ass because you are lovely and you don’t deserve that just for sharing your opinion *hugs*
    That said, I’ve been there too, both with good and bad rep. Even when I find the rep good a little voice in my head goes ‘ok but what if someone else disagrees and was hurt by this book’ and just sdgkjs I always try and see what other people think, to see if there aren’t a lot of people who say it’s harmful and I somehow missed that, but still.
    #ownvoicesreviews can also just be stressful because the book might have been SO personal and sometimes it can be a little too much to share, causing extra pressure. Like I subtly talk about abuse rep, but I don’t go into it that deeply because it’s very personal to me, but then I wonder if I should because that way I can discuss the book better/raise awareness and just dsgsj PRESSURE.
    Again, wonderful post Analee ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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