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Why Do Recognition, Book Awards Matter?

  Ironically for a writer, when I first learned that My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014 and as one of IndieReader’s “7 Books You Must Read in Your 30s,” I couldn’t quite express the magnitude of the meaning this held for me. Clemson Tigers Eventually, though, words and even coherent thoughts began to form. When they did, I understood with clarity that my feelings about this award ran deep. To me, this novel is far more than a collection of words I wrote. The characters, while indeed fiction, represent real people, real people who are struggling. Brian Cunningham is a man living with crippling anxiety. Abigail Harris has been abused and unstable. They are each trying desperately to navigate their worlds, realities that can seem hostile and confusing. Timberland Classic Bottes Their journey to help each other and to connect with others is a rollercoaster. Sometimes it’s hard to understand someone who is experiencing mental illness or mental health difficulties. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand themselves, or even when they do understand themselves, to help others understand. New Balance 997.5 femme This can lead to a great deal of loneliness and increased challenges. kirkus starWhen I write, I hope to increase understanding and compassion, to build empathy and human connection. So when Kirkus Reviews wrote, “As in her previous novels, Peterson demonstrates a tender, notably human understanding of mental illness….[S]he accurately captures the crushing sensations of anxiety disorder[s] while simultaneously offering rays of hope. A vital tool for sufferers and their families that broadens understanding of a debilitating illness,” awarded the novel their Kirkus Star, and later named it to their Best Books of 2014, I felt so many things.     Ditto when IndieReader placed it on its list of only seven books one must read in his/her 30s and wrote, “Peterson’s novel reminds us that there is still much we can learn from (and ways to relate to) children.”  


Thank you, Kirkus, for believing in Brian and Abigail enough to select their story to honor among your best. Thank you, too, IndieReader, for deeming them worthy of placement on your list of seven must-read books. Thank you, US Review of Books, for distinguishing this as a Recommended book. Thank you to all reviewers, the professional companies and passionate readers, for taking the time to read this novel and to make comments like this: “A compelling and heart-wrenching read with characters you just want to hold in your heart and never, ever let go…It’s easily one of my favourite reads of 2014. —Charlene Martel of The Literary Word


Human connection is very powerful and greatly enhances well-being. Brian has severe anxiety and avoidant personality disorder, but his new connection to Abigail makes a difference for him. This is as true in the real world as it is in the fictional one. When My Life in a Nutshell was honored, I felt pleased that this is considered, at least by some, to be a book worthy of reading, a book worthy of connecting to. In writing, I feel as though I am connecting with so many people. I feel shared experiences. Illinois Fighting Illini I’m grateful for the connection I feel through comments like this:How did Tanya J. Peterson know what is going on inside my head? Can she read my thoughts? Life in a Nutshell hit very close to home for me….I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book. I HIGHLY recommend My Life in a Nutshell for those who are dealing with anxiety, as well as those who want to understand what we are going through. Canada Goose HommeTeressa Morris, Window on the World


Yes, I am happy about the honor of being named among Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014 and being placed on a list of seven must-reads. Nike Free Mujer But, perhaps oddly, I’m especially happy for Brian and Abigail. Canada Goose Homme I fall in love with my characters when I write, and I never quite get over them. Brain and Abigail are wonderful people who have been hurting for too long. NMD That people want to read their story shows them that they are indeed worthy human beings.


A bit similar to happiness, true, but here the pleasure feels different from the enthusiastic happiness for Brain and Abigail. I am immensely pleased that My Life in a Nutshell received this honor because it’s a sign that the novel does/will increase awareness of anxiety. It will increase understanding and empathy for those who live with it.   Best Books of 2014 (Kirkus) smaller (400 x 511)To Kirkus Reviews, to IndieReader, and to all readers and reviewers, I am very grateful that you are reading My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel and that you have opened your hearts to Brain and Abigail. Thank you.

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