TITLE: When You Know What I Know
AUTHOR: Sonja K. Solter
AGE RANGE: MG
One day after school, on the couch in the basement, Tori’s uncle did something bad. Afterward, Tori tells her mom. Even though telling was a brave thing to do, her mom still doesn’t believe her at first. Her grandma still takes his side. And Tori doesn’t want anyone else—even her best friend—to know what happened. Now Tori finds herself battling mixed emotions—anger, shame, and sadness—as she deals with the trauma. But with the help of her mom, her little sister, her best friend, and others, can Tori find a way to have the last word.
This one hurts, but wow, what an important place in the world this little book has found.
As a survivor, reading books about trauma and healing is a very cathartic act for me, so I tend to pick them up every so often. I think this was my first middle grade book on the subject, so I wasn’t sure how many punches I should expect to be pulled. Honestly, that answer was practically none. While there’s no explicit detail given of the trauma — and there’s none needed — Solter still does a tremendous job of conveying the pain and fear and self-doubt Tori lives through afterwards.
Perhaps the most painful part of this story was the fact that Tori’s mother and grandmother wouldn’t believe her at first, but I appreciated that, even after they apologize and believe Tori, she doesn’t have to move on right away. It’s not swept under the rug — she allows herself to still hurt over their reactions, and that’s really important. Our loved ones aren’t always going to react perfectly to learning about traumas we’ve faced, and while it helps when they grow and change for the better, we don’t have to force ourselves to forget how much pain that caused us.
Finally, what mattered most to me here is the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel Tori finds. There’s a piece near the end where she asks herself, essentially, “Is it okay to be okay now?” and that answer is a resounding yes. Our traumas never leave us, but we’re allowed to have happy days. We’re allowed to keep fighting everyday to heal and cope and do everything in our power not to let our abusers ruin it all.
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
sexual assault of a child, victim-blaming, loved ones not believing victim accounts
This is a powerful, kid-friendly read about trauma and the capability to heal and have hope for a brighter future despite the pain.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Yes!
— destiny ♥