Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Denial A Memoir of Terror - Jessica Stern

Publisher:  Ecco, 2010
Pages:  299
Genre:  Adult Memoir
Source:  I received a copy from Goodreads first reads for review.
All opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

In 1973 15 year old Jessica Stern and her 14 year old sister encounter a man in their step-mother's house.  he is armed with a gun.  He rapes them both threatening to kill them if they don't comply or if they say anthing.  Fast forward several years and we find Jessica is now a successful expert on terrorists and terrorism.  She finds that the things that should terrify her don't and simple things do.  She makes a decision to find out why.  It is during this exploration she goes back to the files on her rape.  The case is re-opened and she faces many people she has trusted in her life to help her find the answers.  She discovers things about her father that may explain why he did not return immediately from a trip to Europe after finding out about his daughters.  He completed his business and then returned. 

For me this was a tough book to read.  In her chapter called Denial she talks about being victimized over and over by those who are skeptical about events.  I don't believe people willingly do this but it causes further damage none the less.  The victim is then force to react in a way where they shut down emotions, pretend events never happened or they themselves re-victimize themselves by the choices they make.  I think anyone who has ever suffered any type of trauma, whether it is the loss of a family member, a form of abuse or whatever should read this book.  I  thought of my cousins daughter who was involved in a terrible accident with her family.  Her baby was killed, the oldest suffered permanent brain damage.  Her husband wanted her to just wanted her to get over the accident and move on.  They weren't his children.  His ex-wife didn't understand "what the big-deal was the kid was dead just move on", yet told her what she would have done if her kids had been in the car and been injured.  Her ex-husband stole money the community was raising for the oldest kids hospital bills.  One person after another took the opportunity to kick her when she was down and then when she finally fell apart and became suicidal they said they couldn't understand what happened. 

We all find ways to deal with our trauma.  Some of us try to handle it ourselves or seek counseling.  Others take it out on themselves or those around.  Maybe if this book had been around they would have handled things differently.

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