My Twisted Writer Brain…

Don’t Read This Book if You You Want to Sleep…

One of my favorite genres to read is thriller/suspense, I wasn’t really ready for the horror of this book however.

If You Tell. A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen published by Thomas and Mercer 2019.

This is a nonfiction (based on a true story) account of a family living in rural Washington. The family consists of three sisters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori, an evil mother (Shelley) and an apathetic–dare I say, pathetic–father/stepfather, Dave, who hangs on until the end.

The story relates the physical and psychological torture, degradation, and abuse of the sisters, as well as, the abhorrent treatment and murder of family boarders and a nephew.

This story raises the age-old adage of you never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Family members knew of goings on at the farm and didn’t raise alarm bells.

There were questions, but no one pushed for answers.

The entire situation is twisted, sick, and a horrid reflection on society.

I bought this book because of the reviews. With almost 70K + of 4 and 5 star reviews I purchased the book thinking it worthy of my time and effort to read it, but it didn’t get there.

I kept asking myself why this book was written. Why was it so sensationalistic? Why weren’t questions raised by the author, as far as the story itself.

The text was repetitive in nature and the characterization of the sisters was, I think, shallow, at best.

All I felt was horror.

The author had the opportunity to explore the emotions of the sisters and yet this didn’t happen. They were presented as flat and for the most part, unfeeling lumps, of whom their mother heaped horrible degradation upon.

The author kept referring to the girls as youngest, middle, and oldest and put them in those “stereo-typical” birth place roles.

There was reference over and over again about the “typical” middle child and their place in the family and lack of esteem. Same with the older and younger. It was annoying.

There was also a point where the author would mention every couple of pages or so, that Dave (the father/step father) worked many miles away and came home only weekends. Was this meant to lessen his overall involvement? idk. It seemed contrived.

I did read this book through until the end. I thought there had to be some redeeming quality of this retelling of a based on a true story book. It wasn’t there.

Another thing that kind of gets me… On the cover of this book, it states that it “a true story”… Is it? I’m sure it’s based on fact, but there’s no way to actually know what went on in that house unless you were there.

The presentation of this narrative doesn’t let the reader into the heads of the victims, but just sensationalizes the story.

If you’ve read this, or were planning on reading this, let me know your experience. I’d be curious to know your thoughts.

I’d give this book a 3/5.


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