Publisher's Weekly Review: "The Last Letter"

The last few blog posts were tough to write, but now I have some happy news to share: The Last Letter has received a positive review from Publisher's Weekly through their BookLife partner program!

Here's how it went down... This morning as I was sitting down to breakfast, I received a message from a local author friend that read simply: "Congrats on the review!"

I paused, trying to figure out what I had missed because I didn't know what review he was talking about. Was it something in the paper? Nope--that was last week, and besides, that was a quote about Lyme, not a review. I tried reaching through the brain fog to figure out what he was talking about, but nothing was coming to mind.

"What review?" I typed out quickly.

"Um, the Publisher's Weekly review I just read!" he wrote back.

"WHAT?!?!"

I'd submitted my novel to Publisher's Weekly through their partner program, BookLife, upon its release back in September, and although I'd received notice that it was being considered for review, I tried to push it to the back of my mind. Only a small percentage of indie books are reviewed each year, and even if mine was chosen for review, I reasoned, it didn't necessarily mean it would be a positive one.

Then there was this: While my belief in this book has never wavered, my belief in myself has crumbled these past few months due to the constant push and pull of this illness. My sole purpose for writing The Last Letter was to share my story--our story--in a way that was accessible to readers so that they could understand this illness, so patients didn't feel so alone. The problem was, I felt like I wasn't reaching anyone, and I didn't know if I had the energy to do much more than I already was to extend that reach. I felt like I was failing, and so I began second-guessing myself. Maybe the book's message wasn't there, after all. Maybe people didn't understand what I was trying to say. Maybe it wasn't good enough. Believe me, those maybes will make you spiral downward in a vicious cycle of crippling self-doubt. Which is why this review is so important to me, why I'm finding myself so grateful for it (and a little bit speechless still). This positive review nails the elements of the story, which in turn offers me the validation I've been craving. This book is everything I could ever hope to share about myself, everything I could ever hope to say to the world, and everything I could ever hope to give to those who are struggling with chronic illness.

It's also a reminder not to give up. Especially last week, I felt like I was drowning in darkness. Here is another piece of light telling me to keep going.

Life is full of doubt, but whatever you're creating--don't give up on it. When you believe in something strongly, there's a reason for it; whatever you're creating is needed in this world. So trust in that. When you find it hard to believe in yourself, believe instead in what you're creating.

That will lead you to extraordinary places.

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Susan Pogorzelski.