Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Unbroken by Madeleine Black

After taking a few days to hang out with family, I'm going to spend a couple of weeks sharing some of the reviews I wrote before I started the blog.

I decided to start with this one because it's one of the most powerful books I've read.

The Blurb:

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.

Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.

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.

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 is the ultimate act of courage.

In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her moving and empowering story, as she discovers that our lives are not defined by what knocks us down - they are defined by how we get back up.

My Review:

This review has taken me a while to write, and I'm still not sure that I've done it justice!

Even if this wasn't well written, which it is, I would still have rated it very highly for the courage of the author.

Madeleine Black was violently attacked and raped by two 18 year old boys when she was just 13, and was raped three more times before she was 18. This book is her memoir, and tells the story of those events and her subsequent journey to recovery. It's a difficult read in places, as you might expect given the subject matter, and it's heartbreaking in those same places. But it's also inspiring and very powerful.

The initial rape is described in detail. I don't consider myself easily shocked, but I certainly was at what Madeleine went through. I cried for that wee girl. I have no idea how she even got up after it - shows her strength even then. For those of you who are concerned, there is a warning before the details are given, and you can skip them if you wish.

She didn't tell anyone about it for a long time, didn't really understand what had happened or why she behaved in particular ways afterwards, and didn't remember all the details for years, so great was the trauma.

Her recovery took years and involved counselling but also some alternative forms of healing. I cried again at how far she has come, and how this book shows that she is so much more than a rape survivor.

I think this is a book that everyone should read. It shows how awful people can be, but also how strong and resilient we can be. And I really hope that this book encourages other victims of abuse and rape to speak out and seek help.
Me with Madeleine and fellow author and rape survivor Winnie Li. 

You can purchase Unbroken on Amazon UK & US and in all good bookshops.

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