Faith on Friday: Breaking the Amazon Code to Share God’s Goodness


Joanna Campbell, me and Joanna Seibert at the book launch in Little Rock
Joanna Campbell, me and Joanna Seibert at the book launch in Little Rock

Yesterday I spent about an hour crafting a book review to post on Amazon. I was reviewing the book, Taste and See: Experiences of God’s Goodness Through Stories, Poem, and Food, As Seen by a Mother and Daughter, by Joanna ES Campbell and the Rev. Joanna J. Seibert, M.D. Last weekend I went to Little Rock for the book launch, which was such a great experience. My best friend lives in Little Rock, and she and I discovered people we knew and people we’d like to know as folks streamed into Trapnall Hall steadily for two hours to meet the authors and purchase the book. (There was a second author at the launch whom we also enjoyed meeting: Kathryn B. Alexander, who was signing her book, Saving Beauty: A Theological Aesthetics of Nature.)

I’ve done numerous Amazon reviews over the years, but yesterday’s experience was new and unexpected. My review was rejected. Here’s what the email from Amazon said:

Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:

We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again.

51dIMqWNY6LAnd then they listed a few “common issues” to watch out for when writing reviews. (You can see them if you click on the guidelines, above.)

I studied my review. I compared it to the only other review posted for the book so far. I couldn’t find anything “wrong” with the review, so I’ve decided to publish it here in its original form. Then I’ll shorten it a bit (especially the quotes, since that’s an issue they mentioned) and resubmit it. But for you, my readers, here’s the original review. If you go to the Amazon site for the book and read the first review published there, I’d love your thoughts on why it passed and this one did not. Note the “Verified Purchase” line? I did not purchase the book from Amazon. But I’ve reviewed other books on Amazon which I’ve purchased elsewhere, so I don’t think this was the problem. Anyway, it’s a lovely book and I hope my review encourages you to read it.

Tar Balls, Chockecherries and Greek Salad, October 23, 2014

By Susan Cushman “Pen and Palette” (Memphis, TN USA) – RN  

Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Taste and See: Experiences of God’s Goodness Through Stories, Poems, and Food, As Seen by a Mother and Daughter (Paperback)

“Food is our common denominator. Sharing meals has the power to distract us from our worries and set our eyes on what is important, if only for a brief moment.” These words in the introduction to this thoughtful book are offered by the daughter in the mother-daughter team who authored “Taste and See.” If we stop reading there, the book doesn’t sound any different than the myriads of other books about food that are trending right now. But Ms. Campbell doesn’t stop there. She continues, “These are moments of grace where we are able to truly taste and see that God is good and sharing meals is often a medium for these simple and profound moments. These interactions are seeds that begin to slowly germinate, helping us to see how we are all connected and how we are held in the palm of God’s hand.”

“Taste and See” isn’t just about food. Or just about God. It’s about a sense of place–whether the authors are reflecting on favorite vacation spots like Gulf Shores, Alabama (before, during and after hurricanes and oil spills), inspirational trips to Greece, cultural excursions in China, or relationships between parent and child or husband and wife. “Cooking As a Spiritual Practice” surprised me with its absence of eucharistic metaphors. And I loved discovering that Joanna (the mother) didn’t like to cook, but did a great job making communion bread, which I also did for our parish for many years. (And I also don’t like to cook.) And how the daughter of this non-cook turned out to be a “Radical Foodie Southern Health Nut,” (another chapter in the book.) This same daughter’s poem, “Arkansas,” reminds me of my own love-hate relationship with the state of my own childhood, Mississippi.

All that to say this is a book many people can relate to. It’s unexpected. Refreshing. I agree with Jennifer Horne’s blurb that the book hearkens me back to Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor’s mother-daughter book, “Traveling With Pomegranates.” Maybe an alternate title for this one would be, “Traveling With Tar Balls, Chockecherries and Greek Salad.” Kudos to both authors.

4 thoughts on “Faith on Friday: Breaking the Amazon Code to Share God’s Goodness”

  1. Susan, thank you sooo much for coming to the release party and for this beautiful review. Bless you.. Joanna

    1. It was MY pleasure. I loved seeing you and meeting your precious family and so many other interesting folks in Little Rock. The book really is wonderful and would make a terrific Christmas gift… I’ll probably order several more. I’ve already given the extra one I bought last weekend to my sweet neighbor, the one who is leading the literary salon here at my house on Tuesday night. Anyway, hope to see you again soon!

  2. I have read on other blogs that Amazon have tightened their review guidelines. Perhaps this was the reason that one passed through (prior to changes) and yours was rejected. At least they are reading the reviews I guess.

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