Although this is not a crime fiction novel, it is a novel that has to be read, a voice that has to be heard and a message that has to be given and for this reason I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Madeleine Black “Unbroken” which is her memoir relating to her rape at the age of 14 and her journey of recovery and hope. Thank you to both Madeleine and Anne at randomthingsthroughmyletterbox for inviting me to be a part of this tour.
Madeleine lives in Glasgow and I have met her at numerous book events over the last year. She may be small in stature but she has a powerful and mesmerising presence. For today’s spot on the tour, I will share my review along with the five pieces of advice Madeleine would give her 16-year-old self.
Before I share my thoughts here’s what the blurb says:
“For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented . . . difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.”
Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way. Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. But the road to piecing her life back together was long and painful. For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage. In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity.
For those of you who know me, you will know that I am a reader of crime fiction and psychological thrillers and these are the genres that I tend to read and review. Every now and then something happens and I have what I can only describe as a calling to step outside of that comfort zone and try something else. This is exactly what happened with Unbroken from Madeleine Black. This book has been on my radar for some time now, it has been popping up in book clubs online that I am a member of and I have also recently met Madeleine at a couple of book events we have both attended. She has never asked me to read or review her book but I have been drawn to it. So when it was given to me as part of the Book Fairy initiative then I put aside my TBR and settled down to read it. That was just after lunchtime today and I have literally just turned the last page.
It would be wrong to use the words “enjoyed” or “loved” when describing my feelings about it; from the blurb, you can see that this is not fiction, it is not an “enjoyable” nor an “easy” read. I don’t need to give you an overview of plot, themes or characters in this review, simply how it made me feel.
I have no shame in telling you that the tears were flowing down my cheeks as I came to the end of Unbroken; this is a raw yet compelling read told with a brutal honesty and frankness.
It is a powerful memoir which inspires hope, faith and courage.
It is a story which will not only break your heart but it will also show you that it is possible to pick up the pieces and build them into something so much stronger.
It is a story which gives voice, not only to the author but also to others who have gone through the same or similar.
It is a voice that needs to be heard and it is a voice that should not be silenced.
It is a story of recovery, of silencing the stigma and shame that is so often attached to those who have been victims of rape or violent sexual assault.
It is a story you must read.
Madeleine, thank you for being brave, for finding the courage to tell your story and for coming through the other side.
Five pieces of advice I would give to my sixteen year old
- The first piece of advice I would like to go back and tell my sixteen year old would be that it was NEVER your fault that you were raped. There was nothing you could have done and the only people that were responsible that night for you getting raped were the two young men that chose to rape you.
- I know right now that you feel your life is pointless. That you feel worthless, contaminated and hate yourself, but you won’t always feel that way. The shame and guilt that silences you will also shift but it will take years
- Even though you don’t love yourself right now, you will meet an amazing man when you’re 17 who will show you what unconditional love looks like. With his love, you will start to learn to like and even love yourself again.
- Your decision not to have children will be reversed and you will go on to have three gorgeous girls. This change in your attitude will be the start of your healing journey and your plan that you call your Best Revenge. You will refuse to be identified by what happened to you and will be determined to be the best you that you can be.
- This is the part you won’t believe! One day you will share your story publicly, be asked to give radio and TV interviews, speak at many different events and even write a book. You will discover that your voice and words are now your power and you will use them to help end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence. You will speak for those who cannot find their voice yet
Thank you so much, Madeleine
Madeleine’s website is Here
You can follow her on twitter @madblack65
Unbroken is available to purchase: