One of the hazards of pre-publication reviewing is that the books we are evaluating are still works in progress. They're mostly finished, but many are still going through copy editing and proofreading. We check quoted language with the publisher to make sure it hasn't changed and learn sometimes that it has. Other times we will simply describe something that has been changed, and the publisher will let us know.
In the vast majority of these cases, we are able to make any necessary adjustments to a review before publishing it. It's not impossible, though, for us to go to print and then learn that a book has been changed enough to trigger a review revision.
Such was the case withEmily Trunko's Dear My Blank, a book compiled from her Tumblr of the same name, which collects letters written but never sent. We felt the unvarnished look into anonymous souls was "both accessible and important," and we said so, also praising its "often unflinching, frank language that doesn't shy away from expletives."
And then Crown, the publisher, wrote to tell us they’d purged the book of its f-bombs.
My reviewer went back to her ARC for a "cuss count": three "ass"es, two "damn"s, three "shit"s—and 23 "fuck"s, about half of which were in one letter whose text consisted of nothing but reiterations of "You fucking idiot." Who has never wanted to write that letter? I ask you. It and others with the offending word have been pulled from the finished book.
Well, shit. The Tumblr may not shy away from expletives, but Crown sure has. Now, not only do we have to revise our review, we have to publicize that revision and reach out to our licensees with the new review.
The kicker is that although we still feel the book is a valuable one, it's lost some of its gritty luster along with those "fuck"s. And now I'm saying something I never thought I would: here's hoping readers will find them on the Tumblr.
Vicky Smith is the children's & teen editor.