I mentioned this novel a while back on the blog, and now that I found some time to read it myself, I wanted to share some thoughts.
First, the background. This is a novel. I can only assume some of it is based on Tara’s own experiences, but it is not a memoir, so it’s a bit different than many of the other books we have reviewed here. The exact details of the story may or may not have actually happened, however if you’ve grown up in an abusive, dysfunctional family, I do think you’ll be able to identify with Marla Conroy, the narrator and central figure.
If you don’t have that sort of background, this book may not be very easy for you to read. Not because it is overly graphic, or disturbing, in fact it is not any of those things, but because it is a bit haphazard. In telling her story, Marla tends to skip around, sharing a short memory from the time she was 10, then another from years earlier, followed by something that happened in High School. While there’s a rough sense of a timeline, it is not consistent, and the events do not necessarily even fit together in any logical way to you, as the reader.
That was my first impression as I started into the story, but it was a short-lived one because I realized that’s exactly the way I remember my childhood, in bits and pieces. Sure, there’s a rough timeline of growing up, but if I spend much time thinking about it, or trying to document it as Marla is doing in the story, that is pretty much how it would come out. One story would remind me of another story, or there would be a story about something that happened when I was 12 that I felt the need to explain further by telling you about something else that happened a few years earlier. In my mind, those details may be part of the same story because I somehow connected them in my head, but the connection wouldn’t be clear to anyone else. They didn’t live those memories, I did.
So, while a true literary review might disagree, I give Tara a plus for staying true to the reality of how an adult survivor would communicate their story in the real world.
As far as the story is concerned, again it rang very “real” to me, even as I acknowledge that it is a novel.
Growing up with the assumption that everyone’s family was like this, they just hid it and so should you? I did that.
Blaming yourself once you realized that no everyone’s family was like this? Did that too.
Discovering later in life that your parents have told you things about aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents that weren’t true, for unknown reasons? Still learning that lesson. 😉
There were a great many things about Marla’s life that I could identify with, and can recognize now as highly dysfunctional. I also remember all too well those feelings of worthlessness, and impending doom whenever something good did happen, because I couldn’t possibly deserve it. After all, no one protected me from my childhood, therefore I wasn’t worth protecting, in my mind.
It takes a lot to overcome that, let alone write about it, even with a fictional character. So while the Reverse Psychology e-book might not be a literary classic, it does speak a very important truth, and gives a realistic voice to the many, many survivors of abuse and dysfunction that have remained silent for all these years.
You can order your own copy using Paypal from Tara’s website.