WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW by Sonja K. Solter

WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW

Age Range: 8 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 10-year-old suffers, endures, rages, and heals after her uncle molests her.

When Tori turned 8, Uncle Andy gave her a hamster. But when she’s 10, he sexually abuses her in the basement. The single act happens right before Tori opens the first-person, free-verse narration by telling readers that once you know what she knows, “you can’t / not know. / In your face, / under your eyelids.” Solter emphasizes the emotional effects both of the molestation and of the disparate reactions she encounters when others hear about it. At first, Mom doesn’t believe Tori, compounding Uncle Andy’s atrocity and giving Tori a terrifying “whooshing-wave- / of-fire-and-ice-cold” in her body. She hears humming and buzzing inside her head. But her 8-year-old sister is (surprisingly, but believably and vitally) present for her, as is her best friend when Tori—after distancing for a while—steels herself to tell her. Tori’s arc is about healing, her free-verse story more a sketch than a fleshed-out deep dive, but it never skirts the big things: emotional suffocation, powerlessness, silence, anger, and recovery. Tori goes from wanting to “shatter” her own face and “dead eyes” to feeling the approaching summer beckon her, “hopeful / that I’ll join it / with all of its Maybes.” Race is unmentioned; Tori appears white or light skinned on the cover.

This offering of hope after trauma is, importantly, unromanticized. (author’s note, resources) (Verse fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 24th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-316-53544-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2019