When “Those People Behind Us” received an 8.5 out of 10 score from the folks at the BookLife Prize, I admit I wasn’t particularly pleased. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but I do tend to expect a lot from myself. Maybe that’s because my parents were both Virgos. I don’t know much about astrology, but I always blamed their perfectionist tendencies on their September birthdays. Perfectionism was definitely a useful trait in their printing business. “Customers expect things to be right,” they told me whenever I botched a job, trying to help out in their shop.
My parents expected a lot from my brothers and me. If we didn’t score a 100 percent on a test, they wanted to know why. If we got a “B+” on a report card, they wondered why it wasn’t an “A.” This trait of wanting things to be “right” might be the reason one brother grew up to be a physicist, the other a county building inspector and I was a government auditor. It may also be the reason we’re not always fun to play board games with. We know the rules and we expect you to follow them.
This 8.5 out of 10 score wouId most likely have raised my parents’ eyebrows, as it did mine. Thankfully, I didn’t have a meltdown like one of my publisher’s authors recently did, when she got a 4-star review on Goodreads instead of 5 stars. She ranted on Tik Tok and called the reviewer a bitch by name. Not cool at all, especially when she refused to apologize. My publisher dropped her, and I can’t say I blame them.
Four out of five stars obviously isn’t anything to curse about, and neither is an 8.5 score, especially when you read what the BookLife reviewer actually said about “Those People Behind Us.” They called the plot “clever and engaging, with the perfect level of drama to capture and hold readers’ attention from beginning to end.” They said it offered an “intimate and raw perspective on everyday people in everyday circumstances.”
I particularly love this last quote because it was exactly what I was aiming for.
My parents would still wonder, why not a ten?
I have no idea, but I’m still sharing the review. Read the rest of it here.