*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: My story begins aged 3, when my mother abandoned me and left me with my brutal father to raise me. Nobody knew the secrets that went on inside that house, or the journey that I travelled on after leaving it, until now. This is the story of my survival.
What do you do when no one wants you?
How many people need to destroy a child until that child wants to destroy herself?
What if social services always got told a different story?
What would you do if you were in my position?
Survival is key.
What Nobody Knew is a harrowing, true tale of the abuse and neglect suffered by the author from the age of three into her late teens. It is mentioned more than once in the book that no-one knows what happened to her before the age of three.
What is known is that at three years old, Amelia’s mother abandoned her without explanation and she was taken into the care of her father and his wife. Her father was an alcoholic with rage issues and his wife and child lived in fear of his whims and the ensuing violence.
There are vivid descriptions of domestic abuse – physical and emotional – throughout the book. There is also reference to sexual abuse, which is not described in such detail, but still enough to be terribly upsetting. The worst thing I read in the book was the short explanation of what the author was unable to tell us. I cried. Even when the abuse is in abeyance, the physical and emotional needs of this young child were far from met at even the most minimal level, and her isolation and despair are haunting.
Amelia Hendrey’s style of writing is quite detached and factual. She generously attempts to credit her father and stepmother, attributing well-meaning intentions to them where possible (it is not often possible to stretch credulity that far). She describes their base actions dispassionately and recounts their effect on her without trying to sway the reader emotionally. Interspersed with her narrative are official documents of record from social services, the courts and the police. These accounts sometimes support Amelia’s tale but sometimes paint a different perspective, showing the difference between the child’s experiences and the facade the adults were able to present to the world. The use of ‘Child’, ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ to mask identities in these documents adds to the detached tone, but I suspect that the main factor behind the overall tone and presentation is the trauma that it cost the author to relive it in these pages.
This is an account of great strength and resilience; heartbreaking in the bleakness of the suffering and isolation that the author faced during her formative years. It is not an easy or casual read, but one that took great bravery to write.
They say you don’t retain your memories until you’re five. This is a memory I have when I was three: my mother left me.
– Amelia Hendrey, What Nobody Knew
What Nobody Knew is available on Amazon right now.