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Book Title: Not Telling|
The author of the book: Cindy Vine
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Reader ratings: 3.3
Date of issue: May 10th 2010
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.62 MB
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I was intending to craft an eloquent opening sentence for Cindy Vine’s new novel Not Telling, but stunned silence has temporarily blocked my ability to write. To put it bluntly, Not Telling was the literary equivalent of a succession of violent blows to my stomach; each time I tried to catch my breath, another blow knocked the wind out of me. From the opening scene, Not Telling is a lesson in the mercilessness and depravity of humanity, whence 8 year-old Jenny van Tonder is maliciously set up by her big sister Karen and a friend to be sexually molested by said friend’s creepy Uncle Eddie. Sister and creepy uncle both use the memory of Jenny’s deceased mother as a mean-spirited means of ensuring her silence (“I watched you through the window. You’re disgusting. What would Mom say if she was here? You’re a dirty, dirty girl. I’m ashamed of you, that you’re my sister, that you can do things like that”). Fast forward several years. 13 year-old Jenny has purposely turned herself into an obese fortress of defense (“food is my barrier against the world…fat and ugly keeps me safe; nobody wants to do things to a fat girl”), which only serves to draw increased enmity from her emotionally-abusive sister. “I hate Karen,” Jenny admits, “but however deep my hatred for her is, her hatred for me is more intense.” At a New Years Eve party, our plump heroine is brutally raped and devirginized while Karen and her friends watch on cheering and clapping. “I can’t believe I was raped for a case of beer! That’s what I’m worth to these people,” she says numbly, almost self-mockingly, to herself afterwards while mopping up her torn hymen. Unable to keep these traumatizing experiences inside any longer, Jenny turns to cutting herself, a therapeutic form of self-inflicted lacerations (“maybe the evil is in my veins; if I cut them open, the evil in me can escape and I can be free”). Unfortunately, a slice across her wrist accidentally goes too deep, sending Jenny to the hospital. “I was bored, okay? So I started playing (tic-tac-toe) on my legs. I carved the grid for the game onto my thighs,” she says sarcastically to the psychologist, unwilling to share her dark secrets with anyone. Jenny’s grades deteriorate, whereby she is eventually kicked out of school and forced to take on a menial minimum-wage job, the upside being that she challenges herself to lose weight (“the girl in the mirror looking back at me is not fat or ugly. She’s quite beautiful and when I smile at her she smiles back at me”). She reluctantly agrees to have a social drink with rich boy Dean, who proceeds to date-rape her, resulting in pregnancy. The messy miscarriage that ensues may or may not be a blessing in disguise. “Only eighteen years old and I feel as if I’ve already lived several lifetimes,” she reflects appraisingly just before she agrees to marry new neighbor Nick, a too-good-to-be-true suitor. A calamitous wedding night, however (“visions of Uncle Eddie, the boy on the beach and Dean fill my mind. They are with me on my wedding night…turn my body into a concrete block.”), swiftly ensures that Jenny and Nick’s relationship in the bedroom is doomed. Housewife Jenny, resigned to her status as an emotionally-damaged cold fish, accepts Nick’s inevitable infidelities (“The truth is, I don’t care if Nick has girlfriends. As long as he doesn’t bring them home”), but when she catches Nick and her vindictive sister brazenly in bed together (Karen turns around and sees me standing in the doorway, she looks straight at me and smiles…”), Jenny finally divorces him.
And this all in just the first half of the book!
Twists, turns and murder wrap up this gripping narrative. Set in post-Apartheid South Africa, the storyline also occasionally touches on social issues that have affected the continent (“finding a full-time job is not so easy in the New South Africa…hundreds of thousands of people who were previously denied certain jobs have invaded the job market”); a vague subplot involving an interracial romance between Jenny’s father and the “colored” maid deserved more page space. Cindy Vine is a dangerous author – and considering all the bland, “safe,” yawn-inducing books that continue to be pumped out by commercial publishers, I say that as the highest possible compliment. Vine deftly weaves dialogue and stream-of-consciousness prose to keep the story flowing like freshly-let blood. Intent on inflicting an unforgettable literary experience on her readers, Vine wields an arsenal of sensitive issues such as rape, emotional abuse and unwanted pregnancy like a morning star, leaving us lacerated and crushed by the end of her story. Vine, an admitted rape victim herself, has obviously written this book as a form of self-medication, and she does so with unrelenting brutality to the point that when Jenny cries out “please God, kill me this minute. I’ve done my time, had enough,” we tend to agree with her. Like Jenny’s therapeutic cutting, the razor does occasionally strike too deep during Not Telling, which may leave some female readers unwittingly forced to face their demons. And perhaps this is Vine’s objective. “Rape, it never goes away, does it?” she states from Jenny’s first-person perspective. “The after-effects of it linger around like a bad smell in a bathroom.”
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Read information about the authorCindy Vine is an author, mother of three kids, with lots of life experiences she uses as an inspiration source to write her books about. She is a teacher and uses her teaching qualifications to travel around the world teaching.
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