This is one of the most powerful books I have read this year, and probably in a very long time.
Cassie had the worst experience a child could have: She was abused by her father and grew up in an unloving home.
This is a harrowing read, but what makes it an excellent read are the lighter parts and the happy memories.
Cassie’s recollections are put together in a succession of discussions with her therapist.
The most important lesson for Cassie in this book (and for anyone in a similar situation) is not remember the good as well as the bad, because good memories can help drown the bad ones.
I cried tears of joy for Cassie when for the first time she experienced a happy family home (outside her own home) and my heart broke when she returned to chores, a mother who doesn’t love her, and her father, who abuses her. It is like a hike up to the peaks and down into the valley.
This is a true story, written by Cassie Cook herself, with Toni Maguire.
Maguire wrote a memoir of her own childhood abuse (Don’t tell Mummy) and later a sequel (When Daddy Comes Home) and writing her story has encouraged others to come forward and put their childhood secrets into words. Cook was one of them.
Her descriptions are honest and striking; you feel the dark spider crawling all over you, the fear, and the pain in your body. You feel physical pain. But emotionally, it is the mother’s reaction to Cassie’s pregnancy which stays with me, and which I still haven’t entirely digested.
It is not an easy read by far. It is heartbreaking and graphic, but one of the most honest books you will find on the shelves.
Did you ever love me? is available from Penguin, Ebury Press; ISBN: 9781785037665