I’ve pulled “When Libby.”
Many readers love the book. A typical reaction is this recent 5-start Goodreads review:
great story of personal growth. funny quirky, with a bit of romance tossed in. :) was a great read.
But I can’t ignore the fact that many readers also hate hate hate it. They think Libby is too much of a “pushover.”
Honestly, this represents a major disconnect for me. Take for example the crucial scene toward the end of the book where Libby confronts her overbearing bullyish sister.
[SPOILER ALERT. This excerpt gives away one of the book’s plot twists — turn back now if you haven’t read the novel :-)]
Here it is:
But Libby sidestepped to keep Gina from walking past her.“How dare you do that to me, Gina.”
“Do what?” She met Libby’s eyes again, this time cocking her chin. “How did it hurt you? You didn’t know. Besides, you weren’t right for him. You didn’t love him. You weren’t giving him any.”
“I was giving him plenty.” Libby’s voice was rising but she didn’t care anymore, if she woke Paul. Waves of anger were passing through her, so violently that her teeth chattered. “You bitch.”
”You’re overreacting, Libby,” Gina said uneasily. “Anyway, what does he matter anymore? He cheated on you. What do you want with someone who cheats on you?”
“EXACTLY!” The last wave broke and the words were almost a howl. “And the answer is NOTHING. Which is why you are OUT of here, Gina. Tomorrow morning. And you’re not my sister anymore, do you hear me? You’re not my sister ANYMORE.”
“You’re just saying that, Libby—”
Libby bared her teeth. She couldn’t believe Gina was still trying to weasel her way out of it. “If you don’t get out of my sight right now,” she hissed, “I swear, I will hurt you. I will beat you to a pulp.”
Libby doesn’t beat Gina to a pulp. In fact, she restrains herself from slapping Gina.
But that’s not the same as being a pushover. On the contrary, in this scene Libby — without resorting to physical violence <coff> — sets a critical personal boundary.
Libby’s troubles are far from over, but the scene is a pivot point. She’s begun the process of clearing the toxic people out of her life. And she’s neutralized Gina, who prior to this scene was beginning to move in on Dean . . .
But just because I considered that to be a pivotal scene doesn’t mean I’m right, at least not in a way that matters.
Unfortunately, defending the book isn’t really a tenable reaction.
I can’t fight you — “you” meaning the readers who dislike my protag so strongly.
If you say Libby is too much a pushover, well, you’re right. She’s too much of a pushover.
So I’m revising the book so that it will communicate more clearly that yes, Libby did grow stronger over time.
I’ll keep you posted . . .