Thursday, June 24, 2010


Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, two obedient, good girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1 1973. When they reported the crime, the police were skeptical.

Following the example of her family, Stern - who lost her mother at the age of three - denied her pain and kept striving to achieve. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal, she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations. Stern thought she disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a request took her back to that night more than thirty years earlier.

The world-class expert on terrorism and posttraumatic stress disorder began her own investigation, with the help of a devoted police lieutenant, to find the truth about her rapist, the town of Concord, her own family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid and deeply intimate look at a life, a trauma, and its aftermath. (excerpt from back cover).

My Review:

This is a difficult book to read without getting emotionally involved with Jessica's story of the traumatic rape her and her sister experienced in 1973. The details are real and vivid as she uncovers the hidden triggers in her own life that take her back to a time she disconnected from herself in hopes of putting all the pieces back together. Jessica is working with Paul, a police lieutenant that reopens this case based on evidence he discovers that leads to 44 more rapes that occurred in the same area by what they now believe was a serial rapist.

The story takes a turn when Jessica herself learns the story of from her father when questioning him for the book why he didn't come home from Norway after learning of their rape like he should have. She never questions her families role in learning of her rape, whether its to push it under the table and move forward in life or why the police even doubt that the rape occurs after reading the full account of the crime. We learn that her father grew up in Germany at the time of the Nazi regime and even then was threatened and beaten as a child for being a Jew, so you think that alone would make him sensitive to the needs of both of his daughters during the rape. Yet we have to remember that he doubts whether it really happens even after he reads the full report.

This is a really powerful memoir and shows how some people can deal with a traumatic event and still lead seemingly normal lives on the outside while turmoils boils under the surface. It also details for you what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is really like for someone living with it while appearing normal on the outside to the rest of the world around them.

I received Denial, A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern, compliments of TLC Book Tours and once again am amazed at the courage it took her to investigate her own rape and subsequent stories surrounding the people involved in her life at the time.

If you would like more information about this book, the author and where to purchase a copy, click on the link below:


Denise said...

This sounds very emotional.

Just Be Real said...

I think too this book would be difficult for me to read as well. It would stir me up. Appreciate your review Kat. Blessings.

GraceGal said...

I didn't read past the first sentence of your post because I know this is not for me.

Kathy C. said...

Interesting, but probably not something I would read.

Anonymous said...

It seems like she was really living a double life, and that she’s still not to the point where she can fully integrate those two parts. This book must have been tremendously difficult for her to write.