I found this a fascinating, revealing and affirming read. I normally avoid books written in the continuous present, but there are occasions when that ‘oral’ way of telling a story is absolutely appropriate; and this is one of them. Kate’s history of eating disorder, self-loathing and self-harm clearly indicates how deeply damaged she is. She suffered systematic abuse throughout her childhood and early adolescence. She had an obsessive-compulsive, violent, cruel mother and a sexually abusive father, and it was drummed into her that everything bad that ever happened to her at home happened because she was a disobedient, selfish, wicked, corrupt daughter. Only when she cuts too deep at the age of seventeen does she find herself in a place where slowly, gradually, she can begin to heal and find again the child she was before her grandmother died and her father’s abuse began – when she was nine years old… This book has particular personal resonance for me. I am still in almost daily communication with a former pupil (now in her late forties) with whom I had weekly, one-hour, after-school sessions from when she was 13 to when she left school at 16. She was victimised by bullies like Carly and never dared admit it at the time. She was/is highly intelligent and - like Kate and Harmony and me - loved literature. Like Kate too, she had been conditioned by her highly abusive family into believing that she was the daughter from hell for attempting to resist their systematic abuse. The eating disorder, the self-harm, the secrecy, the self-loathing were exactly as Harmony Kent’s character portrays them. Many of the things Kate says about herself and how she feels eerily echoed the attitudes and feelings that were expressed to me by that desperately unhappy girl all those years ago. Like Kate, she got away from them as soon as she was able. What Harmony Kent is revealing here is the tip of an iceberg. How many girls are growing up right now within sexually and psychologically abusive families, hiding the systematic abuse of children behind their closed doors? How many of those abusive parents were themselves abused as children? And how many girls – and, to a lesser extent, boys - never dare to tell, and are doomed to suffer the destructive repercussions throughout their adult lives? This is a well-written book, but it’s the author’s bravery in writing it that I am applauding. Many abuse victims will absolutely identify with it, if they are lucky enough ever to come across it. Reading it will help those fortunate enough to have had a caring, supportive, loving childhood to better understand the challenges faced by the considerable numbers of children who didn’t. I would like to see it sensitively taught in colleges and at the senior end of schools. Please read it. It should be read by as many people as possible: for only then can it play its rightful part in helping to make this deeply damaged world a better place.
Five stars HAS to mean I love it - and I do. Make no mistake - self-harming is a super-heavyweight topic to tackle as a work of fiction and, for some it's not a subject they'd find easy to handle, or indeed even pick up in the first place, so this review isn't a recommendation as such, because not everyone will want to read it. In fact, Finding Katie is what is known in the UK as a 'marmite' book - you'll either end up loving or hating it... You will not however, be immune to it, and this is largely because of Ms. Kent's brave and bold decision to write this in the 1st person, so that what you're reading is essentially Kate Charlesworth's inner narration. In her own words, and with all her feelings and fears laid bare and red raw as the blood she craves to sweep away the terrible, painful trauma that led to her being compelled to murder her childhood on her ninth birthday. So, in her own raging, wrung-out, at times wise-cracking and, at others, despairing words, 17 year old Kate unfolds her history, emotional blockages and self-inflicted wounds, sometimes viciously and then, in contrast, with humility, exhaustion and with an over-arcing vulnerability that will leave you appalled, breathless, as tender and battered in spirit as Kate is physically and mentally. Not an easy story, but there moments and flashes of dark humour, passion and a tremulous hopefulness that means it's really very hard indeed to understand why Kate seems to hate herself so much, when all you want to do is hug her tight and be in her corner as she works her bewildered and often cantankerous way through the mess she's in, to comprehending why she's the way she is and how she wants to survive it. Finding Katie, the little girl whose trust and happiness had to be obliterated from existence, is a storm-tossed ocean of a read that literally takes you to hell and back out - washed up on an isolated inner desert landscape where the only thing that makes sense is the feel of your blood oozing from the razor's edge that you hold in your own hand. It's a book that puts you on the inside and will change how you see 'stroppy' teens forever. Definitely not for everyone - read it if you dare and make up your own mind!
This is the story of Katie, who has been admitted to a psychiatric institution. It may not be for everyone as it contains themes of self-harm and sexual abuse. It's written in first person and so you really get to experience everything that Katie is feeling. Harmony did a great job of getting into the mind of a seventeen year old. In my opinion this is superbly written. I felt Katie's sense of self-loathing and held my breath every time she was tempted to self-harm to take away the pain she was feeling. But it's not all sad. There were uplifting moments, friendships formed, and even a little romance. Adam was the sweetest guy, who had problems of his own. Overall this book gives the message of hope. Kudos to Harmony for tackling a serious subject with such sensitivity.
I didn’t think I’d like to know what goes on in the head of a seventeen year old, but I really enjoyed this book, despite some of the horrendous subject matter. Katie self-harms and as the story unravels we discover the reason she has so many mental health issues. It is very hard to read in parts and I could have screamed at the behaviour of some of the adults and the injustice of the system – this made the story seem very real. It takes guts and talent to tackle the subjects dealt with in this book and Harmony Kent has both in bucketloads. Challenging reading but highly recommended.
There are some people who should never have children and then there are Kate’s parents. Her story is fiction, but could just as easily have been a true story. There are people like this out there and they are basically getting away with murder. This story made me mad, but it is a story that needed to be told and it is a story YOU need to read. Something like this should never happen. It’s sad that it happens every day.
Harmony Kent did a wonderful job of weaving her tale. I was pulled in from the very beginning and couldn’t let go until the story was finished. I’m guessing she had firsthand experience through a friend. I hope her friend has fully recovered. I’m guessing again, but I imagine many never recover and too many end up dead. I actually felt like Harmony was telling her own story—the mark of a good writer. A great five star read. Well done Harmony Kent.
The book starts with Katie a teenage girl waking up in hospital after self-harming. After some self talk, she decided to try and escape but is stopped by the nursing staff and subsequently sent to a children's psychiatric ward, where she is to stay until they deem her fit to enter the real world again. During her stay here, we learn about what it must be like for someone in this position and start to connect with Katie as she slowly shares her inner thoughts and eventually we learn how she came to be in this position in the first place (I won't spoil it for you). This well-researched book makes for an interesting and thought-provoking read. Well done Harmony Kent.
Kate is a seventeen year old girl broken by years of betrayal and abuse by the very hands that are supposed to protect her. Written in the first person, Kent masterfully tells Kate’s story, depicting the damaging effects on the mind, body, and spirit of a young girl. Finding Katie, by its nature, is a tough read, but Kent’s ability to portray the realism and expose the delicate layers of this raw reality is flawless. This is a book that you will not be able to put down because you actually become invested in this young girl’s survival.
'Finding Katie' is a poignant and compelling read that will certainly evoke an emotional response. So much so, you will smile when there are glimpses of hope. I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the complexities of this reality. Bravo Kent!