One is a memoir by the founder of the No Longer Silenced Movement, Nicolette Winn.
As a memoir, it’s not the terrible, detailed, story of torture that some other abuse memoirs are, so it may not seem as troubling to some, but on the other hand, it makes it a more accessible read for the large number of survivors who would really have trouble reading those kinds of horror stories, which serve their own purpose. As such, it does succeed in reaching the author’s stated goal, to share her own story as a way to help the thousands upon thousands of other survivors see that they are not alone.
So, if you’re looking to document the horrors of child abuse, there are better books. But, if you’re looking for a story that is all too typical, of a child raised in a broken home, dealing with emotional and physical abuse from various parts of her mixed family, and honestly discussing the reality of how much that type of abuse still manages to color a survivor’s view of the world and their place in it, this book works.
Like many memoirs of child abuse survivors, the writing can seem a bit disjointed at times. Events don’t tend to stick to an exact chronological timeline, the narrative can go from an adult telling the story, to an almost childlike voice as it continues, and then back again, and characters can at once seem monstrous, and sympathetic at the same exact time. If you’re new to the world of abuse memoirs, welcome to our minds. That is what looking back on an abusive childhood is like. It’s messy, and full of contradictions.
On the negative side, I’m not a big fan of the cover. She does explain the reasoning behind the cover in the preface, to her credit. By creating a cover that made the book look like some book about young girls who think they are models, rather than a book about abuse, it may make it easier for someone to pick it up and read without the uncomfortable feeling of anyone seeing it knowing that they are reading a book about child abuse. That’s true, there are many survivors who have not told anyone, who might be afraid to have an abuse memoir in view of other people. I just think there might have been better ways of doing that, and that the cover would also cause some survivors to turn away as well, especially male survivors who would not be comfortable toting around a book with a beautiful young lady on the cover. Then again, her organization, and book, are targeting young adult survivors, so I’m not really part of the target demographic. It would be weird for me to carry it around, (Luckily, there’s a Kindle edition!) but maybe not so much for a guy in his late teens/early 20’s.
That said, the one thing that I took away from it and want to talk more about was a common thread as I read the story. Now, full disclosure, I have been connected online with Nicolette for a little while, so as I read the story, I also had a picture of the person I know in my mind, who is a young, super-driven, woman. As I read the story, I could see clearly that the thing that kept that drive going was that, no matter what else was going on, there appeared to always be someone whom she refers to as her cheerleader, or supporter, involved in her life.
I think that’s important for us to understand. Society, in general, is quick to feel sympathy for abuse victims, but also quick to write them off as “damaged”, as if their life will never be good, best to just put them in a home, or treatment, and hope they don’t hurt themselves. That’s the exact wrong message to send to abused children, and One shows just how much impact a single cheerleader can have on the life of a young person.
We might not have been able to prevent the abuse in the childhoods of the survivors we know, but we can all cheer them on to great things as they grow up and heal those scars. Survivors are all capable of great things, even if those great things are simply being great parents themselves, or great friends, or even changing the world in ways we can’t even imagine. They just need a little help seeing that sometimes, and having someone there to remind them that they are not the sum of their abuse, but so much more, can help them find that greatness.
So, as you read One, look out for those supporters, and think about how much difference they can make. Then think about how you can be a supporter for other survivors. They need it, and you can make a huge difference.
See more on the Amazon Page for One.