There is a moment we all experience in our childhood where we suddenly realise that this is the end. This is the end of being a child and we are entering a dark, unfamiliar world of growing up and becoming an adult. This moment should happen naturally, transitioning from our teens to young adulthood. Unfortunately this is not always the case and it can be forcefully stripped from us to be left exposed, lost and alone in the dark.
Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for Unbroken (Published 4th April 2017) By Madeline Black. A big thank you to the publishers John Blake Publishing and the author for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite, thank you. This was a tough book to get through but it is one that needs to be read.
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 it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.
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 takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.
In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down – we are defined by how we get back up.
About The Author
The sharing of her story on The Forgiveness Project’s website in September 2014, opened many doors for Madeleine in ways she never imagined and the invitations started to pour in. She has taken part in both TV and radio interviews and has been invited to share her story at conferences, events and schools. She recognises that she was a victim of a crime that left her silent for many years, but has now found her voice and intends to use it. Not just for her, but for so many who can’t find theirs yet. She is married and lives in Glasgow with her husband, three daughters, her cat, Suki, and dog, Alfie.
I have to warn you dear reader that this book is not an easy read. It will make you feel uncomfortable, angry and will emotionally break you. This is not for the faint hearted and every single word of this story is true, it all happened. Just knowing that alone before I started reading was tough to digest. But you need to, because this story needs to be heard. You will soon understand why.
Madeline was a shy girl growing up. She helped out at home with the rest of the family as her mother suffered from back and neck pain caused from a car crash years ago. She had good grades in school and friends to hang out with. One friend in particular, Kelly was a bit different from the rest. One night they both planed a night out as Kelly had mentioned she could introduce Madeline to some boys. Like most girls Madeline was interested in boys but a harmless, innocent interest as she was only 13 years old. What was meant to be a night of fun quickly turned into years of pain, anger and trauma that Madeline quietly suffered with alone. That night she was brutally gang-raped by two of the boys. She would be raped three more times before the age of 18. It would be a long time before she could face the blurred memories of that one night and begin to rebuild and heal the damage both physically and mentally done to her.
My heart broke as I read the events of that one night. The strong explicit images of a young girl being raped and abused against her will is shocking to read. You feel helpless as there’s nothing you can do but read on. What follows from that night is a spiral of events that leave Madeline distant and distraught. She forced herself to block bits out and couldn’t tell anyone what happened even though she wanted to speak out. She knew her childhood was over and no longer recognised herself. She shut off from her family, her grades at school dropped and she began using drugs to numb her feelings. She was all alone and the reader can see the dark pit of despair that she was falling into.
Madeline is raped three more times before she is 18 years old. At the time she was unaware that it was rape and just thought it was bad sex. But in each of the three situations she writes about she had said no and didn’t give her consent. It took her years to see the rapes for what they were. Madeline blamed herself a lot for what happened. She believed that it was her fault these horrible things happened to her. She even convinced herself she was raped because she was a bad person. This only caused her to fall further and further into herself. Being young is a confusing time for everyone. There are still so many things we are unsure of and feel afraid to speak up about. Madeline shows this clearly in her writing as you can see the thought process of her younger self, the never-ending loop of self-loathing and hate. Yet you also witness how she conquers and pushes through her fears later in life. She reaches a point of acceptance while looking and striving forward, not back.
I was wary of the introduction of Steven as you become very protective of Madeline. You want all her hurting to stop and for her to find happiness. I was overjoyed when it was clear that Steven was a good guy and even happier when they married and had three daughters. Madeline decides that her best revenge plan will be to live and have a life filled with love and joy. She refuses to let the boys continue to control her life. She moves to Glasgow, volunteers for Women’s Aid and then a few years later Rape Crisis and goes to college. She begins to rebuild her life even though she is still plagued by flashbacks. While studying counselling she opens up in therapy and learns a lot about the mind and human behaviour which aid her in her healing process.
Madeline begins to see more and more from that one night and gives a full account to the reader of what happened. Upon re-reading that night with the added details, I felt sick to my stomach. I had to stop a few times as it’s heavy stuff, by the end I was a mess. But you have to read it, to understand that these things do happen. We can’t keep turning our heads away and pretending it doesn’t because that is not helping anyone. It’s all very real and it needs to stop. It needs to stop now.
I was mesmerised by Madeline’s journey as she forced herself to face new challenges and tackle her doubts head on. She takes small slow steps into being able to travel alone, work with men, run marathons, learn karate, do windsurfing and it’s inspiring to see. She is a strong, determined woman who has not only faced her past but also forgiven her attackers. It’s taken her a long time to reach that point and I admire her for that. She will no longer be silent and speaks for those who are still finding their voice.
I give Unbroken By Madeline Black a Five out of Five paw rating.
An honest, vivid account of an horrific trauma that shows us that we are not defined by what knocks us down but how we get back up and choose to live. Madeline’s best revenge plan was for her to live her best life and be happy. She is a survivor, a symbol of hope to others who are still finding their way. We begin reading the story of a tiny caterpillar who is broken down and forced to retreat into their cocoon. Over time the caterpillar slowly begins to emerge but it has now turned into a magnificent butterfly, spreading its wings and flying free.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy.
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