Know My Name – a memoir by Chanel Miller

When you write a novel where one of the main characters is raped, you need to dig very, very deep to understand what that means in terms of the physical, emotional, and psychological effect on the victim. For my novel, You Don’t Know Me, the very last thing I wanted to do was diminish, in any way, the profound, life-altering, and seriously damaging effect of such an occurrence.

One of the books I read to inform myself is Know My Name, a memoir by Chanel Miller.

Let me begin by saying that Chanel Miller is an amazing writer and a woman of great bravery. “Writing is the way I process the world,” Chanel says at the end of her memoir. She states that she writes “to show how victims are treated at this moment in time, to record the temperature of our culture.” The culture of dealing with sexual assault victims.

Chanel Miller’s ability to take the reader into the gritty depths of what happened to her amazed me. I’ve selected a few quotes from her memoir that resonated for me in terms of the system that victimizes victims and the strength required to fight for what’s right. Believe me there are many, many more insightful quotes I could include.

For years, the crime of sexual assault depended on our silence. The fear of knowing what happened if we spoke. Society gave us one thousand reasons; don’t speak if you lack evidence, if it happened too long ago, if you were drunk, if the man is powerful, if you’ll face blowback, if it threatens your safety.”

“The agony is incessant, unyielding, but when you get to the point where you feel like everything’s gone, there’s a little twist, a flame, a small shift. It is subtle, it comes when you least expect it. Wait for it. This is the rule of the universe, this is the one thing in life I know to be true. No matter how awful and long your journey, I can promise you the turn. One day it will lift.

“This is not about the victim’s lack of effort. This is about society’s failure to have systems in place in which victims feel there’s a probable chance of achieving safety, justice, and restoration rather than being retraumatized, publicly shamed, psychologically tormented, and verbally mauled.”

Often it seems easier to suffer rape alone, than face the dismembering that comes with seeking support.”

Assault buries the self. We lose sight of how and when we are allowed to occupy space. We are made to doubt our abilities, disparaged when we speak.”

After Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement went viral, Joe Biden took the time to write to her. “In his letter, he wrote, I see you. What did it mean that the vice-president of the United States of America had stopped every important thing he was doing, to write I see you.” “Biden said, You have given them the strength they need to fight back. And so, I believe, you will save lives.”

Read Know My Name. You will never look at sexual assault again without compassion, without understanding, and without a deep appreciation for what it takes to merely go on with your life.

You Don’t Know Me – as yet unpublished – is my first contemporary novel. 

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

A Year of Reading 2019 – Part 2

Tuesday’s post included 21 of the 38 books read during 2019. Below are the remaining 17. And here’s the legend.

LR = light, enjoyable read; GR = good, several caveats; ER = excellent, few caveats; OR = outstanding; DNF = did not finish; NMT = not my type.

Title Author Comment
Jul The Spy and the Traitor Ben Macintyre OR This true story of espionage and double agents during the Cold War is riveting.
Jul Eye of the Needle Ken Follett ER An exciting, tense spy thriller set during WWII. One of Follett’s best.
Jul Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell DNF Devoured this when I was a teenager but could not get ‘into’ the story a second time.
Aug Ribbons of Scarlet Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb OR Wonderfully written novel set during the French Revolution. Told through the eyes of six unique, complex women.
Aug The Guilty Ones Joy Ellis ER Definitely a page-turner with many unexpected twists.
Aug The Punishment She Deserves Elizabeth George OR Superb twists and turns in this murder-mystery be acclaimed author Elizabeth George.
Sep Crime on the Fens Joy Ellis LR Crisp police detective story, with many twists and twisted characters.
Sep The Irish Princess Elizabeth Chadwick ER Superb historical fiction featuring Ireland in the 12th century, a time of warring kingdoms and England’s plans to seek control.
Oct Know My Name Chanel Miller OR A stunning journey through the lived experience of Chanel Miller a victim of sexual assault.
Oct She Said Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey ER Breaking the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse and the #MeToo movement
Nov Button Man Andrew Gross LR 3.5 stars. Intriguing historical backdrop and time period – the garment industry in 1930s New York – make this an interesting read.
Nov The One Man Andrew Gross DNF Folks on Goodreads said this was Gross’s best. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood.
Nov The Ragged Edge of Night Olivia Hawker ER A beautifully written story that features distinct and memorable characters; set in WWII with German characters
Nov Written in Their Stars Elizabeth St. John ER The novel sizzles with emotion, tension, and memorable characters who struggle to overcome tragedies during the English Civil War.
Nov The Harem Midwife Roberta Rich LR An intriguing peek into the confines, jealousies and power struggles of a sultan’s harem.
Dec The Dressmaker of Khair Khana Gayle Tzemach Lemmon ER An inspiring story of women coping with life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Non-fiction.
Dec The Fortunate Ones Catherine Hokin ER This novel grabs your attention from start to finish and makes you think about war, consequences, choices, and the power of love.
Dec The Dutch House Ann Patchett ER Words like quiet, introspective, compelling characters, and atmospheric come to mind.

 

I hope you all enjoyed some wonderful books in 2019. Recommendations and comments welcome.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.