Discussion: The importance of trigger warnings

Discussion

I wanted to discuss the idea of trigger warnings after my latest book review. I reviewed the book It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover. You can see the review here for reference. The Goodreads synopsis for this book has a very basic warning about the content which reads “This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter”. However, my paperback version of the book has no content or trigger warnings what so ever.

I mention in my review that I had no clue what to expect going into the book and based on the blurb I had assumed the book would be a love triangle. Was there romance? Yes, but just as the Goodreads synopsis suggests the book mainly revolved around much heavier subject matter of domestic abuse and homelessness. Neither of which are directly mentioned in any way in the blurb. And this is essentially what has prompted this discussion for me. As even I a person who fortunately has no personal experience with either issue was left emotionally raw at the end of the book. Which lead me to contemplate how much worse I would feel and what I would need to try to deal with if I had experienced either of those things in my past.

These thoughts were further pushed on when a reader Jillian (who I am unable to link to at this time) commented on my review. She mentioned that Hoover has actually received backlash multiple times over the years for not putting trigger warnings on many of her books. This was not something I was aware of and it shocked me. It makes me wonder how many other books and authors have had similar issues. Why is this something that is allowed to happen? Especially on matters that could severely emotionally hurt someone, or event mentally hurt a person. Is it a fear of ruining the experience of the story for others? As in, is it treated by some as a spoiler if there is a warning for certain content?

Which leads me to ask, in which case is a blanket warning like the one Goodreads has used enough or a happy medium? As this essentially warns people of potentially difficult subject matter without spoiling anything in my opinion. It gives people with triggers an opportunity to think twice and even look up what the difficult or sensitive subject matter could be, in order to make and educated decision on whether or not to read the novel in question. I think this should be something to be considered for all books that deal with triggering issues. However, some people may not think that this is enough. Should we have more specific warnings? And if so where do we draw the line?

I think this is a matter that really needs to be considered by authors, the publishing industry and readers alike. I mean things that are aired on TV and in the movies are required to firstly give a maturity rating. Which essentially books also do by placing the reads into children’s, MG, YA, NA and Adult. But TV and films also need to mention what makes the content possibly troubling e.g. coarse language, violence, sex scenes and drug use. Which lets the viewer decide if they are comfortable watching something that may involve these things. This clearly is something that books are not required to have. Although I do know that some do. The back of some of Sarah J. Maas books for example include a warning about content that is of a sexual nature. So, it is clearly possible to give some kind of a warning for those that may need it. So why isn’t this required? This is potentially an issue that will have many varying opinions and may be multi-faceted, but I personally believe that it is something that needs to be discussed and looked into further. Let's Chat!What are your opinions on trigger warnings? Do you think at the least books should be required to have content warnings like TV and movies? Is a blanket statement about heavy content enough? Or do the warnings need to be more specific? Discuss with me below! 

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Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

29626641Title: It Ends with Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Publication date: August 2016

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter..

Firstly, I want to mention the blurb of this book and give credit to Goodreads for their synopsis. My version of the book does not include the line “This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.”  And I think it very smart and considerate of Goodreads for including it now. Going into this read as my book didn’t mention this I was expecting a love triangle with a little drama and a lot of romance! 

Let me tell you this book was so much more and really does cover some pretty heavy and sensitive subject matter! Through the first few chapters I thought this book was exactly what I expected a grown-up romance, love triangle with a touch on the serious topic of homelessness and domestic violence via the main characters parents. I found myself getting emotionally invested, picking a “team” and hoping they would be OTP.  This book is so well written in the way that you feel without meaning to the main characters emotions completely. Being an empath and an emotional person, this was great at first. I mean it was hard to read about the struggle of the MC’s childhood, but I was so happy and excited and feeling the love with the romance developing. I was falling hard as she was. So, I was very emotionally invested when things took a much darker turn then I was expecting. 

The MC experiences domestic violence of her own. And it is not glossed over, and it is graphic and intense. Because of the way the book is written I was already invested in her life and in the relationship. So, as I wasn’t expecting this it hit me hard in the feels. And because of the empathetic emotional person I am this meant I was in this for the long haul. I stayed up until 2 am reading trying to work through these feelings with the MC, struggling as she was going through emotional turmoil, I laughed, I stressed and I bawled my god damned eyes out, but I had to see how this story ended. 

For days after I felt emotionally raw and I could not stop thinking about the story and it definitely made me think and question things I had never thought about before. On the one hand I think this means the book was incredibly written. Anything that can make you feel so much is not a badly written piece. So, I knew I would rate this book highly. But I also knew I couldn’t give this book a full 5 star review. And not just for the handful of grammatical errors/ typos. But because my version of the book had no content and or trigger warnings at all. And sure, maybe with them this book may not have caused me to feel so much emotion. But the fact that it doesn’t have any warning and me as a person who has been fortunate enough not to experience any of these issues in her own life was this emotionally wrecked by it. I can only imagine what it might emote in someone who has if they were to read this unsuspectingly. And I do not think that is fair at all. At the very least all versions of this book should have the warning the Goodreads synopsis does, but it’s clearly a little late for that now. Therefore, I gave this read 4 out of 5 stars. 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you think all books should have trigger and or content warnings? Until next time Happy watching and reading!