Title: If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
Author: Gregg Olsen
Genre: True Crime
PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book from your TBR list chosen at random
I’ve read some pretty horrific stories in my life. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum comes to mind. Although it’s fiction, it’s based on a true story. This book is extraordinarily difficult to read. Another rough book was one I read last year: The Road Out of Hell which was the true story of the Wineville Murders. But, I think this one takes the top prize of “Most Horrific.”
From Goodreads: After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.
For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.
Shelly Knotek is truly one of the worst people I’ve ever read about. The horrors she inflicted on the people in her house, family or otherwise, is just beyond terrifying. I was in shock reading about the atrocities she inflicted on those around her. And from what I’ve read, she has zero remorse. As much as I’ve read about serial killers, it seems like most either had a terrible childhood or have some sort of mental illness that leads them to a propensity for violence. Note: having a mental illness does NOT make a person more violent. But there are enough documented cases of serial killers with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.
Shelly Knotek didn’t have a terrible childhood. She had a bit of a rough start, but once she ended up in a stable home, she was loved and taken care of by parents who cared about her. But the second she stepped into their home, she was a difficult child. But enough people have difficult childhoods (look at her daughters, for example) and turn out just fine. I’m not going to diagnose a person based on one book, but she’s definitely missing any kind of empathy. She is cruel, manipulative, and downright evil. This book is a difficult book to stomach, knowing that it’s all true. But it was also a fascinating look into how people (her daughters) persevere and overcome.