Thursday, 25 November 2010

TRUE LIFE REVIEW: I Won't Forgive What you Did - Faith Scott and Lynne Barrett-Lee

Release Date: 01/10/10


Born the third of eight children into a life of rural squalor in a farming community in the south of England, Faith Scott's infant world is already more challenging than most. Bewildered by the bizarre and cruel behaviour of her mother and terrified by the violent outbursts of her perpetually angry father, the only certainty in life is that there is none. So when Granddad 'Pop' gives her sweets and does the horrid things he does to her, how is she to know that isn't what all Granddads do? And if it isn't, why does her mother find it funny? Told with honesty and courage, this is the story of a little girl who never stood a chance - who was regularly abused in the most shocking ways by her family and preyed upon by the worst kind of men. Faith went on to have two children in her teens and endured appalling domestic violence but now, after all the suffering, she has turned her life around. Her decades-long journey out of the darkness tells the truth about what happens to abused children when they grow up, in a story that's horrifying and compelling in equal measure.


Books like this one are always tricky to review. Firstly you have to applaud the person for having the courage to put pen to paper and allow others to share their life story but in other respects some of the tales that make it to print aren’t as harrowing as a number of articles that have appeared in women’s magazines or the principle storyteller really has a lot of problems that really haven’t been addressed.

The latter is the case in this title as Faith really hasn’t addressed a lot of her own issues. Firstly she demonises her own mother as an uncaring woman, doesn’t recognise an undiagnosed case of a mental disorder and when she suffers a lot of the same conditions in her own life as well as inflicting the same sort of damage on her own children she expects sympathy, almost as a you must feel sorry for me attitude.

Faith also wasn’t the classic case of a downtrodden beaten woman with no self-esteem, she managed to get herself a career, passed exams in order to progress and then went to work for social services where she got to go to other people’s homes and see a lot of the problems that were going on in her own, and yet she still did nothing to change it. The book is also contradictory in a number of ways for example she also laid claim to not being able to have a bath and smelling and then made throw away comments about how wonderfully the teachers thought that she was turned out. It doesn’t make sense; you’re either one or the other.

All in its well written but that’s the best thing I can say about it which I suspect is only due to the talent of established author Lynne Barrett-Lee. As the story progresses you don’t feel as sorry as you think you should for the “victim”, instead you end up wondering why she was able to create the book when other titles lay out the facts about the victim’s life and how they turned themselves around. All in, it felt that this book is all about garnering sympathy for a person who seems set in her ways and appears to enjoy having the attention alongside playing a victim.


Anonymous said...

You know, I always wonder about these 'tell-all' books about abused victims and how far they have come... are the books really good? Do they help others in the same situation? Is it about the Shock Factor, seeked so often by publishing houses?
It really makes me wonder - and as you mention, the victim doesn't seem better, then what's the point of reading about her story, if her journey has not reached its destination, yet?

Pat Hollett said...

I would say the same thing as DaD aka Anne, that the protag has not reached any resolution in her journey, hence what could have been an amazing story becomes less than satisfactory to the reader. We want progress, a resolution, growth of some kind or to conquer the problem and come through it in the end.
I actually looked at that and thought, wow! That looks interesting, until I read your review and was disappointed with the outcome. It doesn't make sense to write a book without a definite conclusion or resolution. Thanks Gareth! :)