Not My Story To Tell, by Cathy Lynn Brooks
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social/Net Gallery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is a heartbreaking one, all the more because the book was written after the death of a troubled young woman by her mother. At the heart of this book is a disconnect between a mother who thinks she did most things right and a daughter whose life was deeply scarred by child sexual abuse by a neighbor boy. The author is indeed right that the book is not her story to tell, but she is the one to tell it because a car accident took the life of the author’s daughter at the age of 29 when she was trying to put her life back together in the aftermath of some time in jail for drug trafficking. Worst of all, I suppose, is that the accident wasn’t even her fault but as the author said, she simply ran out of lives. In reading this book I have a mixture of irritation and compassion for the author, irritation because I think that little children should be taken seriously. If they say that they are not comfortable or safe with someone, what they say should be taken seriously. They shouldn’t feel forced or pressured into explaining matters, not least because they may be terrified to do so or unsure that they are able to do so .
As a book, this volume is a short one, about 50 pages in the version I read, or about double that if it is viewed in its quarto pages. The book combines the attempts of the mother to justify herself as well as her attempts to give voice to her late daughter wherever possible. The author, rightly, views her daughter’s struggles with bi-polar disorder and PTSD, a fairly natural response to being raped as a child, from the point of view of an outsider, and manages to show herself to be fairly typical in wanting to do the best for her daughter but being ill-equipped to do so and failing miserably in building trust. Indeed, the parallel narratives of the author’s struggle to justify herself before a world that blamed her for failing to protect her daughter and her daughter’s struggle to find love and safety in a hostile world are juxtaposed with each other in complex ways.
I found the author a bit exasperating myself, but I suppose she cannot be blamed for that. She has a bit of a difficult challenge in trying to write about her daughter’s story without making herself look too bad, and she probably thinks that she does a better job than she does. I would probably be less harsh on her if I was not able to empathize very well with the author’s late daughter, even if I feel that (thanks to the grace of God) I have not made quite as much a mess of my own life as that poor young woman did. After all, most parents are not very good at listening to their children or taking their counsel when it comes to their indirect ways of expressing preference or explaining that something isn’t a good idea. Ultimately it seemed like the author cared a great deal about her own convenience and didn’t really work to build trust or understand her daughter until it was too late. At least I hope I have been able to tell my own story, because I would have to have my story told by someone who seemed to be almost clueless about what was really going on with me the way this author seems clueless about her daughter.
 See, for example: