Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
I Don't Believe it
on 16 November 2013
I don't believe it for two reasons. First of all, this woman claims to have been sexually abused by just about everyone she ever met. Let's list them: Her stepfather, her older brother, her sister's boyfriend, the boy at the farm, the lesbian nuns, and the priest who was a brother of the nice family. There's another one, I'm sure, but I lost track. And then the ones who didn't sexually abuse her kicked her, hit her (daily), locked her in cupboards, fed her vomit, gravel and asphalt and practically sold her into slavery.
Secondly, she has such a clear, vivid memory of precise events in her childhood. That's impossible. I remember precious little before I was about 11 years of age. I recall certain events very vaguely, but everything around those events is a fog. O'Brien remembers everything, right down to the minutest detail. She remembers events that happened when she was four and five so precisely that they just can't be true.
And really, can everyone - I mean EVERYONE - in that part of Ireland be a such a child-abusing paedophile? Everyone? Where are all the decent families that make up a community?
But it carries on. She finally ends up back in England and despite warning her sister, Karen, about Fred, their brother-in-law, fails to recognise him when she arrives in England herself until he tries it on with her again. What happens next is astounding. Her paedophile step-father, when he can't have his wicked way with her because she's pregnant ends up sleeping with her boyfriend! And her older brother starts raping her younger brother! And her mother just allows it all to go on!
And at this stage I'm starting to feel that this is possibly a slightly dysfunctional family.
So why have I given it three stars? Because it's actually a very readable story. Cleverly written in that she starts with no call for sympathy whatsoever, in fact making the point that she's a pain to live with and that her boyfriend has an undeservedly tough time of it. For the most part the book is written from a child's perspective, and I'm still undecided as to whether this is very clever writing or she actually did have such a poor education that this is the best she can do. Whatever, it works, and you're drawn into the narrative through the eyes of a five-year-old. The love she feels for her younger brother, Simon is unimpaired and flawless, and this, along with her great stoicism is one of her many redeeming features.
For although I began this by stating that I don't believe it, I do believe this girl was abused, and badly. I just don't know how much is true. I think she's started off to write her story and just got carried away with it, losing herself in the narrative, perhaps adding other children's stories to her own as she went.
In short, I just don't know what to believe. Either way, though, it's a good read.