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If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  533 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person.

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things? What then?

When Winter Halperin—former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert—gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life exp
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  533 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Emily May
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before we go any further, I want to make sure you understand this: I am not a good person. If that’s important to you, to only read things by good people and about good people, where all their conflicts are unfair things that happened to them despite their pluck and kindness, then you should stop reading right now. I am not the girl for you.

3 1/2 stars. ^Heed this warning. Seriously. If you are someone who needs to like your protagonist, this book - and Sales's books in general - are not for
**UPDATE MARCH 11 2018**

Wow, okay, sorry for bringing this ranty review back onto your feed, but I’ve been giving this book a lot of thought lately and I feel like, now that it’s been awhile since I read it, I need to rearrange my thoughts and criticisms in a more constructive way. To be honest, what has really stood out to me after a bit of thinking, is a major thematic issue in this book (among many): this novel claims to be an observation and critique of “callout culture.”

This book makes the
Liza Wiemer
Deep breath. This is not an easy book to read and not an easy book to review. By far, this is the hardest review I've ever written. There are going to be people who despise this book, want to tear it to shreds, throw the book against the wall. There will be people who will read the first 10 pages and stop. I understand. I wanted to give up on it. This novel is painful! Really painful, so please if you're struggling with it and you're hurting, take care of YOU! It sits close to home. We've watche ...more
I didn’t like the message of this book. Look I have no problem reading a book about terrible people who never get redeemed. I just feel like this isn’t the message of this book. The message I got from this book is that we are supposed to be sympathetic with people who are “victims” of the call out culture online. No sorry I am more sympathetic with people who are hurt by micro aggressions and racism online. Really disappointed in the book as I usually love her books.

I was provided a copy of the
Jen Ryland
I struggled with this book.

Winter, a high school senior, starts out by telling the reader that she is not a good person. Then she explains that she made a remark online about a spelling bee winner, a remark that she claims she didn't intend to be racist. Because Winter was a former spelling bee champion herself, a journalist re-posts the remark and the internet turns on Winter. She gets hate mail and death threats. She posts an attempted apology that only makes things worse.

On the positive side,
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018

I REALLY enjoyed this! I loved the ideas and arguments it brought up, i loved the exploration of self within this novel, and I really enjoyed learning about each of our characters. This book is def not for people who dont like (lowkey) unlikable characters.

And the romance/love interest in this book is THE CUTEST. The last time I cared this much for a hetero romance was in Strange the Dreamer - and before that I can't even REMEMBER the last time I cared about a romance!

Highly HIGHLY sugge
Trigger warnings: racism, animal cruelty, animal death, mental health, suicide, public shaming, bullying, slut shaming, outing of queer characters, racial profiling, probably other stuff that I've forgotten because this book is just such a monumental shitshow.

I'd never even heard of this book until it was listed as a pick for my book club. I read the blurb and was like "Uhhhhhhh. That sounds not good. But...okay?", and forked out $9.99 for the privilege of reading it because my library didn't h
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s going to take me a little time to gather my thoughts on this one, but my initial gut reaction to this book is that it’s not going to be easy to read — which isn’t too surprising, based on the provided premise. It does offer perspective on a scenario that happens fairly often in this day and age in a way that felt real and raw. But that means it’s also a difficult thing to read, particularly as the reader wrestles with their feelings towards main character Winter. It’s a complicated situatio ...more
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

Winter unintentionally makes a racist remark online that goes viral setting a series of online vigilantism against her which ultimately leads to college to rescind its acceptance. She goes to a rehab type program to learn how to restore her reputation and do better.

Winter is an unlikable, narcissistic teenager who’s more interested in being right than doing right. Her apologies are full of excuses and explanations about why she’s truly the misunderstood victim. She’s not a terrible person,
alice (arctic books)
2. 5 stars. Not bad! It shares some important messages, especially in regards to the Internet and microaggressions, but also lagged in many places. RTC.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Disclaimer- I got this book from a Goodreads giveaway, but that will not make a difference in my opinion at all.

So when I started this review, I had given this book a 3 star rating, but then I lowered it down to a 2 because it made me so angry, so who knows? By the time this review is over, it may be down to 1 star.

This book was a real trip, and not an enjoyable one. I was interested in the premise when I read it, which is why I entered the giveaway in the first place. Let me just give you a q
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
Apr 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

I have a lot of thoughts on this one but I need time to write them down and edit them. I think this could have been a good book because I like the idea of it but the execution wasn't good. It felt like a book from a white person to make other white people feel better about themselves and I'm not here for that. Full review will be up on Books and Ladders!
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-good
"When we decide someone is an angel, she is an angel only until she falls from the sky. But when we decide someone is a villain, she is a villain forever."

TW: suicide attempts, slut-shaming, homophobia, racism, panic attacks, animal abuse.

Me staring at the void for twenty minutes after finishing this book:

This was the definition of thought-provoking. 🤔

I don’t even know how to properly describe my feelings towards this book.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Leila Sales (she’s definitely one of my a
Kelly Hager
This is an incredibly polarizing novel and (according to Goodreads, anyway) it's skewing more toward the negative. If you're expecting a lovely tale of redemption and transformation, this is not for you. Winter has some character growth, granted, but not as much as I would have wished. And it takes her a really, REALLY long time to stop picturing herself as the victim in the story. (And yes, she said a horrible thing. And when you say horrible things, especially without context, it is your own f ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Sales is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I literally couldn’t put this book down. It’s such a compelling story about such an interesting topic. I honestly did not think I was going to feel for Winter when I started this book, but she grew on me. Like...she is a pretty unlikable character and the book isn’t easy to read. However, it prompts an interesting thought experiment about how much of her so called public shaming she deserves, and whether she can move on from it. This is a ver ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
2.5 stars. First 10% of the book were good and entertaining then it got so boring and repetitive.
Erin Mendoza
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely worth the read.
I received an advanced copy from Farrar Straus Giroux /FierceReads in exchange for an honest review.

I’m struggling to compose my thoughts about IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY as my opinions changed with every new paragraph. The book starts off letting you know exactly why you should dislike the main character, Winter Halperin. We get a whole chapter explaining that you’ll probably hate Winter, but knowing that this is the beginning of her story and she needs to be redeemable, I think it
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know this book needed to exist until I started reading it. But from the first chapter, I recognized that this was a game changer just like the internet and our online communities have been game changers. This is the book everyone needs to read. It's a welcome warning for all parties. It shows us the problems of both sides: recognize that you don't know where your words may lead you in the public space of the internet. AND recognize that behind every comment you want to use an example of ...more
This book, although not necessarily something I loved, really made me think. I know that I definitely don't always read over and edit everything I post online, not truly believing that it could come back to bite me. In that regard, I did find Winter relatable. I think this book really challenged our conceptions of who is truly the victim, and how much someone should suffer for making an insensitive comment. Sure, it may not be meant to be hurtful, but it can be. At times, Winter really irritated ...more
Sandie, Teen Lit Rocks
Quick impressions: I think this is a conversation-starting, thought-provoking story that explores the question of what happens after someone says/does something stupid online. In today's call-out culture, the phenomenon of people getting dragged and then labeled/ridiculed/fired keeps happening again and again. I think the main character is purposefully clueless, because if she were more aware she wouldn't have made the error she made to begin with... Her non-apology (mentioning no ill intent, li ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating this book is almost as tough as reading it was. On the one hand, I want to give it three stars because it was a tough read with a main character that I struggled to connect with. On the other hand, I want to give it four stars for eliciting that type of reaction from my -- Winter is not a character that the reader is meant to love and for that I have to applaud this book.

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say tackles some tough subjects that are oh-so-relevant in today's online world. Win
May 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm not quite sure if this book is meant to paint people who tweet insensitive things in good light or denounce the public shaming of social media. Or maybe we're supposed to feel sorry for racists who forget that not everyone lives in a pretty, fictional world where racism is a mistake.

The protagonist's life (is this fiction or nonfiction???) is turned upside down after her racially insensitive tweet about the illiteracy of black people goes viral. Instead of this book being a "if you don't hav
Jennifer Kawecki
Disclaimer: I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for a fair review.

I don't dislike the premise of this book, which is: Winter says something she thinks is clever on the internet, only it's not clever—it's racist. At best, it's incredibly racially insensitive. Afterward, her life is pretty much torn apart by strangers (and some not strangers), and because she can't figure out what to do from there, she goes to "reputation rehab."

What I dislike about this book is the lesson
Sydney (sydneysshelves) West
Conflicting thoughts RTC
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Winter Halperin is a Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. She is tuned into the latest spelling bee news, so when she finds out that African American Sintra Gabel won the latest Bee, she sends out a fateful tweet: "We learned many surprising things today. Like that dehnstufe is apparently a word, and that a black kid can actually win the Spelling Bee."

This tweet labels her as a racist. Winter is rejected from her college of choice, Kenyon College, and is thrown onto the street (metaphorically
Michelle Wrona
This review can also be found on A Thousand Lives Lived, check it out for more!

*3.5 star rating*

When I picked this book up, I was extremely hesitant because it seems that the entire bookish community is not really rooting for this book by Leila Sales. I am a HUGE Leila Sales, having read every book by her except for one, and when given the opportunity to read this new release, I was ecstatic. I was not aware that she would be releasing a new, heartwarming story in 2018, and discovering this was
Jul 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
How does stuff like this even get published?

I haven't disliked a book this much in a long time, and I absolutely don't recommend it to anyone.

One of the biggest faults for me is that it's really, really boring. One redeeming factor is that it dives right into the "action" in that it begins with Winter tweeting a racist comment. However, this relatively not-that-exciting plot point (in the sense that it's just some girl posting a message online) is actually one of the more exciting parts. There
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Winter Halperin is not a racist. Or, at least, Winter Halperin doesn't think of herself as a racist... but when she loses the National Spelling Bee, a tweet she meant in jest is retweeted by a well-known reporter and immediately picks up the kind of traction that Justine Sacco's AIDS joke did so many years ago. Winter meant to comment on the fact that so few black kids ever make it to the spelling bee, but the way she phrased her tweet makes it seem as though she doesn't believe that black peopl ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dissapointed, arcs
From the beginning I thought this would be a strong novel depicting the rise and fall of a teenage girl who makes a racist joke on the Internet that becomes viral within hours. Instead, we meet Winter who is self-centered and plays the victim throughout the book. There wasn't any character development because she still classified herself as a victim by the end. She didn't see a wrong in the racist joke she posted, and spent months wallowing in pity over how unfair it was that the whole world hat ...more
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Leila Sales was born in 1984 and grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in psychology in 2006. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in the mostly glamorous world of children's book publishing. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write.

***Please note that

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