Title: Not Telling
Author: Cindy Vine
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Self Published
Summary (from Goodreads)
Not Telling is the story of two sisters who give new meaning to the term ‘sibling rivalry.’ Jealousy, hate and betrayal are woven into their lives, after a series of traumatic events completely disrupts Jenny’s childhood.
You can never escape your past, it’ll always come back to haunt you in some way. Jenny is quite unprepared when her past resurfaces and she is faced with an enormous dilemma. But, does she tell?
Euh... Writing a bad review is never easy, particularly when you’ve been sent the book by the author themselves. But, I have to be honest. Know that I have tried my best to be fair.
The good things, then.
There is a good story hiding in here somewhere. Vine has clearly done her research on rape victim psychology, and she was certainly brave in her subject matter, unflinching in her portrayal of it… I just felt it really didn’t work.
The story was told chronologically, which meant we heard of Jenny’s traumas in the first person as it is happening. Which is a little bit too much for me when dealing with such a harrowing subject as childhood rape. If the story had been told from an adult perspective, looking back at the past, it would have provided a sense of removal from the scene – a buffer for the reader. We read to experience lives outside of our own, and while a dark background adds depth and interest to the character, there are certain things we don’t particularly want to experience so up close and personal. It would have made me very uncomfortable… only it was written in such a way that it made me laugh. Which really isn’t a good thing.
Vine has clearly thought hard about children and their sexual innocence, but rather than having her character view the memories from an adult perspective, there are lines like this:
A purply pink standing up thing is sticking out of Uncle Eddie’s trousers, like a cobra sticking its head out of a hole, and it’s dripping snot onto my leg.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really get any better than that.
The characters then.
I’ve already mentioned Vine’s obvious research into rape victim psychology – it really shows in her portrayal of Jenny as an overeater, anorexic, cutter, incapable of physical affection. I didn’t ever really doubt that Jenny would have reacted psychologically the way she did.
The other characters, though, and some of Jenny’s actions, were totally off the mark.
For a start this is a book about sibling rivalry in some senses. There is rivalry, yes, but it makes no sense. Karen is just a totally evil character with no redeeming features. Written well, she could have been a brilliant character, and Vine did try to give her realistic reasons behind her flawed behaviour, but a sister, no matter how jealous and damaged, does not watch (and encourage) her sister’s rape and not feel guilt about it. The story should have been a journey towards redemption for the two of them, but a cop out ending saw Karen written out of Jenny’s story in a way that Jenny didn’t have to feel anything about.
Characters also blithely talk about murdering the main antagonist. Now, a little joke about it, or a few strong words said in anger or while drunk I could buy, but a blase conversation over coffee about killing off someone is not what people do. Not seriously.
Then there’s the whole middle section of the book, where Jenny gets married to Nick, a character who I thought made sense, but within a paragraph left me wondering who he was, what he wanted, and what on earth his motivations were.
Again, I feel this could have been a better story. Jenny’s marriage breaks down, and the final run of the book is her quest to find herself, through opening a coffee shop. That was the interesting part of the story, unfortunately glossed over. If the story had started with Jenny trying to open a coffee shop, detailing her struggles to find the money and believe in herself, revealing as the story progressed about her traumatic past and how she got to where she was at the start of the novel, it could have been a really moving tale.
Overall, I think the sum of this book’s problems is the fact that it is self-published. A good editor could have fixed this, though realistically, I doubt in the busy world of publishing there are many who would dedicate the time. As it is, grammatical errors (it actually says ‘would of’ at one point – ARRRGGGH), over cooked metaphors and two page long paragraphs that jump between topics and bewilder the reader make this a difficult book to read. For a story that’s not absolutely incredible, only the most dedicated of readers would sift through all that.