Not To Be Conquered
Traci D. Tennison
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (4/11)
Abuse is a horrible thing, yet it happens everywhere and all the time. “Not To Be Conquered” by Traci D. Tennison is a brave book about a young girl, Deniece, whose childhood was filled by abuse from the one person a child should be able to trust the most: her mother. After being nearly killed by her own mother, Deniece managed to physically escape her abusive mother, and even find some support from several of her teachers and the Conairs, a couple eager to adopt her and help her get good education. It was music that turned out to be her salvation and her ticket to a better life, although her path still was not an easy one. While she clearly displayed a strong will to survive and overcome her past, her biggest enemy just might have been the one within. Without being able to love others as well as herself, and to accept and welcome being loved by others, all her previous struggles could easily have been in vain. Would Deniece be able to win this ultimate fight?
The main reason I could only give this story three stars has to do with the technical side of the book, and definitely not with the idea or the story. While the story is one that simply needed to be told, and there is no doubt that the author has done extensive research in the field of abuse, clearly supplemented with a lot of personal experience through her work, the story itself lacked a consistent narrative voice. There were parts where the narrator, a young girl in the music business, sounds much more like a clinical psychologist or a researcher, even going as far as quoting the year when a particular psychological paper was published. Her ruminations sound like street talk one moment, and like a college lecture the next.
I also found the internal organization of chapters bizarre, with some sort of sub-chapters and their individual titles contributing little to the flow of the story. Added to this were several instances of poorly explained connections between certain events and lack of clear understanding about how the heroine could have been aware of certain happenings, which is often an issue with any first-person narrative. There were also consistent punctuation issues and oftentimes very unclear structure of the sentences. Streamlining both the story itself as well as the language used would have made this book considerably easier to read.
This is a book that would have clearly benefited greatly from the contributions of an experienced copy-line editor as well as a proofreader. While I encourage the author to keep writing, since her stories are undeniably worth telling, I would like to encourage her even more to find some competent professional advice and support.
In spite of the abovementioned shortcomings, I found “Not To Be Conquered” an interesting story and one that should be read by a wide circle of people. While there is little doubt in my mind that any survivor of abuse would be able to find solace and encouragement in it, I also firmly believe that the rest of us would benefit from understanding more about this horrific issue.