If You Tell A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood Review

True Crime: A Childhood of Terror

Author: Gregg Olsen

In the popular media and even in the culture of our culture (and many cultures around the world), the word mother is immersed in the miraculous qualities of love, protection, self-sacrifice and generosity. A word, a role, deserves respect. But what if that’s not your story? What if the world means something else to you - such as lies, and is corrupted by torture, and murder?

In 1994, in the small town of Raymond Washington, Michelle (Shelley) Notch, the mother of three daughters of three different men, gave the term a terrifying meaning to her mother. Convicted and convicted in 2003 of felony criminal mischief, her husband, Dave, is thought to have been arrested, and Shelley has been charged with multiple counts of child molestation and multiple murders. But this is not his story. If you tell the story of her children surviving and turning their own mothers over.

Enter Shelley’s daughters Nicky, Sami and Tori Notec and focus on Greg Olsen’s non-fiction narrative. Nicky is the oldest daughter, her cousin, and her mother has chosen her for the most offensive behavior, along with the temporary border Shane. The second-in-line is Sami's easier. She was able to somehow convince Shelley and she ran a fine line of loyal sisters and cruel informants. Finally, there is Tori, the youngest who is with her mother once the older siblings escape into their own lives. Together, through interviews and snippets, including the girl's surprised grandmother and confused father, Olsen weaves a narrative that avoids time but takes long enough to touch the tip of the iceberg.

Olsen rarely gives details like dates and ages. When he delivers them, readers are surprised to find that the girls started sincerely in their teenage years, mostly before they were abused, which left me questioning. Despite the girl's first memories of possible suffocation as a child, the first part of their lives remains empty. Was Shelley right then? There was no objection? Feeling normal? The argument does not indicate - a sudden change would have made them rebellious without being aware of the true horror of their situation. Still, it seems like a hole in the narrative. Some omitted or unknown.

What is there provides ample evidence of real-life horror and decay. Lara - Grandma - provides some backstory by showing the seeds of a perverted narcissism in the early years of her one-of-a-kind daughter Shelley. Shelley has accused her own father of paying attention to the rape, although medically it has been proven that she is a virgin. This is the only sign-post of the psycho-therapeutic behavior that has been going on for years, inherited from his own great-grandmother, Ann, who proves enough in the narrative that he can prove that he was a criminal lunatic in everything. Annoyingly, we can never guess what Shelley's diagnosis is or what the problem is with a professional - whether it's insanity or evil or somewhere in between.

As the girls get older, constant bleach bathing and wallowing (as a cool watch and orchestra as they drowned in the mud they were forced to go out naked with their whims and be sprinkled with water by their fathers) come to the scene: something unknown, a friend. Shelley, tragically she has a friend (she is charming when we are told she wants to, although from the girl's point of view we never see it). Shelley's down and out friend Kathy Lorene goes ahead with the note and the girls are relieved. Cathy becomes Shelley's new target, and abuse reaches a new level, including make-shift waterboarding, starvation, and transportation in the trunk of a family car. Kathy takes it to the end. And there is a horrible consequence that girls should wake up to. But history will probably repeat itself.

After Nikki and Sami leave the house, they wonder how Tori should be rescued from their mother and are disappointed when the new border and friend Shelley arrives at the house. From here, things get trickier, and this is where the true story begins! Girls don't do enough for us - outside of us who sometimes experience abuse, looking for safety and self-righteousness. Psychology, and talking about explanations like Stockholm-Syndrome. If it were a novel, I would be concerned too, because in fiction I should be heard telling told, fake stories. Sadly, this is not a myth and so while girls are not always (or even often) accessible to us, in fact, they often seem selfish, most of us are nowhere to be judged. We can only read and learn and silently utter "there but for the grace of God I go"

The story unfolds throughout and yes it is a bombshell. Olsen's handling of dynamite components is good in most cases, but not always. As I mentioned, she is vague as time goes on, girls avoid age after age and these events obviously seem longer and shorter than that. He is also very sympathetic to Dave Notch, who voluntarily abuses his daughters, kills innocent people and then represents another victim instead of an old man who hid the evidence. Not, Olsen, it's okay to judge Dave as harshly as the evil Shelley.

Thus the finish is flat. We wait for the law to understand what is going on behind the beautiful example of the Notch family. When this is finally done, the action spreads quickly. We do not see the details of imprisonment except for a few strange sentences about it as an unusual application of both convicted and not guilty. We hear nothing of Shelley's life in prison. The author does not even note whether he has tried to interview her. Nothing. The focus was sensationally offensive and once finished, so does the narrative.

Regardless, if you say that they have a strong stomach and a burning curiosity about the darkness of life, it is worth reading. It will not be raised or ended on any “we won” or “we won” note. It will not give you more details about the science or psychology behind monsters and their lasting effects on the victims and it will not educate you about the law and criminal system. It’s an authentic dark entertainment that makes many of us feel uncomfortable. We can only admit to reading because we are curious, victims of the plight of others. In the end, it probably makes Shelley more like us. Get rid of this worry. Read at your own risk.

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