Publisher: Wordcrafts Press
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
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The first rung: the betrayal
The second rung: the assault
The third rung: the rumors
The fourth rung: the painting
The final rung: no other way out
Betrayed, bullied, and battered emotionally, physically, and spiritually, Benji’s life spirals out of control. She is certain there is nowhere to turn and nothing to live for. Yet in the midst of the darkness there appears a ray of hope in the Yeah, But I Didn’t therapy group.
Ann Swann delivers a harrowing emotional tale that offers messages of hope and renewal of spirit despite some of the darkest times that life can throw at us. — 5 STARS, Readers’ Favorite
One out of 2 marriages end in divorce. You probably already knew that statistic. Did you know that 1 out of every 3 girls is sexually abused in her life? One out of every 5 boys? If you don’t want to hear any more about this, then this book is not for you. Yeah, But I Didn’t by Ann Swann is a book that stares the ugliest side of growing up right in the face. If you were lucky enough to grow up without being bullied by your peers, physically abused by someone bigger or older than you, or had to deal with survivor’s guilt, then maybe you think the sequence of events in this story are farfetched or melodramatic. As someone who has had firsthand experience of more than half of it, I can tell you that you are wrong.
Once I got over the fact that Benji was a young girl and not a cute dog from the ‘80s, I was able to appreciate Swann’s ability to write from the perspective of a hurting and humiliated 14-year-old. Already feeling rejected by her father’s desertion years ago, you can really feel the pain of having to live in a household that is completely opposite of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Maybe that’s the reality of present times when you cast aside Pollyanna’s glasses. Single mothers often don’t have time to be there for their children. And children don’t know how to sort through their feelings because of lack of parental guidance and too much reliance on communicating through technology. I had a hard enough time alternating between defending myself from or ignoring rumors in high school. I can only imagine what it would have been like if social media existed at the time.
The draw and danger of social media is portrayed so well in this book. I could tell that Swann is very familiar with how young people use the various platforms and doesn’t just use the references as a means to validate this story as one for young adults. It’s hard to explain, but you can tell when a writer talks about a subject they know very little about.
The only part I found problematic was one of the therapy sessions. The therapist hugs Benji and says something like, “You poor thing. Thank God…” Hospital therapists normally do not hug their patients or mention anything religious. Normally, they would ask for permission to touch the patient. I would think that is particularly important when someone has suffered assault.
I thought that the chapter titles were an interesting choice and it all becomes clear when you reach the end. The allegory of the ladder can be interpreted in several different ways, both positive and negative. It can be used as a tool to get somewhere or to accomplish something good or necessary, or it can be the tool to one’s self-destruction. Ultimately, Benji’s climb up the ladder wasn’t so straightforward and I liked where Swann had her end up. Let’s just say that it takes real balance to accomplish that feat.
I received an advanced copy of this book, so I hope that the various typos were corrected before the final press. There was also an error about Benji being the first grandchild when her sister Janie is four years older than her. I really liked how the epilogue really buttoned things up and gives the reader closure. I would have liked to see resources listed at the end for teens who need someone to talk to, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. I think that this would be a great book to initiate difficult conversations with teens.