Book Review: I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS

I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS
By
Jacqueline Woodson

          I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS, is one of the best written novel style books on this subject I have ever read. A well-written book, the characters are realistic and multi-layered. The story line is captivating. The author compellingly relates the thoughts and spirit of her young characters with page turning expertise. This book is a must read.

Some secrets must be told; just as some promises must be broken; time is of the essence.  Petina Powers

          “Lena’s eyes seemed to hold on to that sadness as though any minute she’d start crying and no one in the world, not even God could stop the tears. She didn’t cry, though. Behind the sadness in her eyes something-like a thin layer of steel. And no matter how hard you looked, you couldn’t see past it. And no matter what you did, you couldn’t melt the steel into tears.

 I would have sworn on a million Bibles.

I would have sworn on Christ’s robe.

But that was a long ago time. This morning, when I woke up from that dream, I knew I would tell. It seemed like Lena was saying, ‘It’s okay now, Marie. Go ahead and tell it. And maybe someday other girls like you and me can fly through this stupid world without being afraid.’

 So I should start at the beginning.

 And tell the world.”

And so begins the story of a journey into friendship that was never supposed to be. A friendship built by two girls against all odds. Set in the 1990’s, with racial and economic differences creating a chasm of separation the two races do not socialize, even at school. Marie is a neat as a pin upper class black girl in a town of predominantly successful black families. The new girl at school is Lena an ill-kempt often dirty white girl from the wrong side of the tracks. However, from Lena’s first day at school, the two girls are drawn to each other. Both girls live in single parent homes, raised by their fathers. Marie’s Mother walked out on the family and Lena’s has died. The similarities end there. Yet, a bond develops until secrets are revealed and lives are forever changed.

As she travels the world, Marie’s mother keeps aloofly in touch through poetically written postcards. One day Marie asks of Lena, “Where would you go?” In response Lena says, “I go places now…When my daddy’s touching me, I take off, boom! and I’m gone. Thailand, Colorado, the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think of all the places I’ve heard of with beautiful names and try to imagine what they look like in real life…until it’s over.” Lena’s survival method is one often revealed by now adult survivors of child sexual abuse

One of the most important statements in the book comes from Lena when she says of her father to Marie, “Nobody believes it when you tell them, she whispered, “Everybody says it’s impossible.” This statement from young Lena speaks to the unwillingness of many in our society to accept that sexual abuse occurs within the family and from those friends and peers we know, respect and love.

Whether you are a child keeping a friend’s secret or an adult keeping the secret of your best friend who is the abuser or protecting the abuser, you must tell. It is the legal responsibility of every United States citizens to report and it is the only right thing to do for the child. Please do not think you will make it worse for the child when you tell. It is only going to get worse for the child anyway. Because, even though some sexual predators may want to, they do not stop on their own. Do the right thing, report, before it is too late. Please see our page Report Abuse: Who to Contact in your State.

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