“She put the survival knife down on the table. She couldn’t breathe. “From now on,’ she said, ‘I’ll have this knife.”

So begins this powerful story of a day of a teenage girl, Tish, who is being abused by her stepfather. No one knows, although Tish is pretty sure her mother pretends she doesn’t see what is right in front of her face.  It is a big secret.  Tish is fighting for her life, but more importantly, she is fighting for her soul. This book is told from Tish’s point of view and we feel her fear, despair, her hopelessness. Maybe she should just end her life? Sometimes she thinks that would be the easiest way out, but since she got the knife, her stepfather will NEVER abuse her again.

She hides the knife in her boot and treats it like a security blanket. At gym class, Tish refused to take off her boots. When her teacher tries to force her to remove the boots, Tish loses it. She screams and hollers and is marched to the nurse’s office.

 “I’m fine,” she tells the nurse, but “inside she was bent over, sobbing, beaten for good.  Lost.”   ‘I’m okay, honest,’ Tish said, and that was the exact momentary truth. The truest thing she’d said in all of this, and it was a terrible lie.”

Tish couldn’t let them find the knife. She will be okay as long as she has the knife.  But will she be able to use it?

This book is emotionally raw and honest. I forgot what a great writer Cynthia Voigt is.  The story will capture you right from the beginning and is hard to put down. You just have to find out how the day ends for Tish.

Please note that this book deals with a mature subject matter and language, but for this story, it feels real. Some things in life, you can’t sugar coat, and this book deals with a subject that many teens and even younger children have to unfortunately endure as their reality.  Many times children and teens believe they have no choice but to keep secrets like the one Tish keeps hidden deep inside her, and I think it’s important that books like these encourage kids that they are not alone and it’s okay to tell the truth.

Find When She Hollers at your library

When She Hollers by Cynthia Voight