July 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Dear Abby: Jeanne Phillips

Kind words for friend's bad book are hard to find

Dear Abby: My friend’s husband has been writing a novel for several years. He just self-published it, and it’s available on Amazon. He gave me a copy, asked me to read it and enter a great review on the Amazon page. The problem is the book is filled with misused and misspelled words, and there is missing punctuation. He even switched the names of two characters. (His wife, who is a “perfectionist,” was his editor.)

Aside from the fact that I don’t want to finish the book, I know he or my friend will ask me how I liked it. I don’t want to lie because I’m afraid if someone else brings these things to their attention, they’ll know I didn’t read it or think I should have told them. I know they will be embarrassed if I bring it to their attention.

Frankly, I think it’s too late to say anything negative because the book has already been printed. How do I handle this?

Reader in the Southwest

Dear Reader: He’s a friend, right? And you’re only a reader, not a literary critic whose credibility will suffer if you don’t point out every flaw. Find SOMETHING you liked about the book and mention that on the Amazon page. You could call it a “page turner” because you had to turn from Page 1 to Page 2, didn’t you?

In a case like this, less is more. And remember, you’re doing this in the capacity of being a friend, not an English teacher.

Dear Abby: I have a friend whose son was involved in a shooting which ended in a death in her house. Should I send food, flowers and a nice note in the mail or stand back and not intrude? I sent a text asking if she was OK and if I could do anything for her family, but I don’t know what else to do. We are more than acquaintances but less than great friends.

Unsure in Pennsylvania

Dear Unsure: If the funeral has been held, your friend does not need flowers. At a time like this, she could use some moral support. Call her and tell her you would like to bring some food over and ask what she may need. Then bring it to her, and be ready to listen if she wants to talk. Your presence and your caring will be meaningful, because when a tragedy like this happens, people don’t know what to say, which isolates the person who is grieving.

Dear Abby: I know it’s rude to ask workers how much money they make, but does that also apply to asking a student what his or her grades are? Aside from parents and teachers, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business how I’m doing academically.

In my opinion, asking, “How are your grades?” is as rude as asking, “How much money do you make?”

What do you think?

Matt n Eugene, Ore.

Dear Matt: I’m with you. How about coming back with, “I’ll forgive you for asking if you’ll forgive me for not answering.”

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.