It pains me to criticise this book, but as I don’t want to shy away from writing negative reviews and received a copy in exchange for my honest opinion, it is necessary to share my points of conflict with “You’re Doing Just Fine“. Seeing what the author was trying to say is after all different than objectively judging what is before you.
First of all, I appreciated the vulnerability, honesty, self-reflection and empathy of this collection. It managed to make me like Charlotte, and I even think we could have a great conversation together as we’ve got a lot in common. She’s talking about… well, here, my criticism already starts.
A lot of times, I wasn’t sure what that was exactly. I had expected that the title “You’re doing just fine” would be the theme of this book, but it seems to relate to one or two poems during the end only. Before that, you are given the entire thought process that brought the author to this conclusion, but there is a lot of effort on behalf of the reader needed to understand it. Also, there should have been a trigger warning as some parts are quite explicit and were hard for me to read.
TW: Addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Harm/Suicidal Thoughts?
The biggest issue is the lack of structure. There was no clear thread, either of chronological or thematic order. The book seemed to cover a large time-span and years of growth, but I rarely had an idea of how old the author was during which part, or how her thoughts developed. No, humans don’t always work in straight lines, and if the point of the book was to show that we are complicated, sometimes irrational and ever changing, it worked but wasn’t well conveyed.
The content was reflected in the writing style, which jumped, sometimes literally from a few verses to long paragraphs in one piece. You never know if you’re reading poetry, prose or just jotted down thoughts. It was confusing and made my head dizzy, because the reading flow is constantly interrupted.
In a weird way, this could be a reason why it appeals especially to a younger audience. Our generations seem to feel lost more than ever, not really knowing what to do in life, overwhelmed by the many possibilities and with no clear path to go. In that case it is valuable to know you are not alone in that feeling. By now though, there is an abundance of quotes, posts and articles about that online, so to me, this book didn’t really bring anything new. What should be its selling point is the way in which the message is expressed, but due to the lack of organisation, I couldn’t really take anything away from reading it.
A lot of times, it read like my own art notebook/poem collection/journal, a mixture of one’s creative outlets. Charlotte’s show many good thoughts, emotions and reflections. What’s missing is, as I’ve said before, the structure, a focus point, the feeling that this is actually going somewhere, which I simply expect from a book. It seems to derive from a lack of editing and instead it felt like a copy of the author’s diary.
While I appreciate the bravery on her part of sharing it with the world, and feel really sorry to criticise it like that, it’s just not professional enough yet. Charlotte seems to have a lot of potential as well as the determination and passion to grow as a writer, but that definitely needs to happen in her future works.
Still, I would like to thank the author for sending me this book and really do wish her the very best for her career.