Live Through This Mindi Scott Book Review

You would think that in my line of work, I would be entirely desensitized to stories of sexual abuse and what not — thankfully I don’t bring my job home with me emotionally, but I still have the capacity to feel much emotion when I read books that pertain to things I encounter at my job. Y’all, Live Through This by Mindi Scott is a book that I have such a hard time reviewing because I’m not sure whether to put on my professional hat and go into depth with my work-knowledge or to put on my reader hat and pretend like I don’t have that sort of knowledge. However, I am both reader and professional and I think that those two things can meld quite well in a review. Regardless, Live Through This was a book that profoundly affected me and one that I was compelled to talk to my friends about while reading and then tweet the author post reading. Note: those are not my typical reading reactions.

Live Through This Mindi Scott Book Cover

From the outside, Coley Sterling leads a charmed life. She’s gorgeous. She’s on the dance team. Her family doesn’t suffer financially. She’s in the beginning of a sweet romance with a nice sax player. Her family is very close-knit. Yet, Coley is keeping a secret. You see Coley is the victim of what we call in the field ‘long term sexual abuse’ or incest. Now, Live Through This starts out where you don’t know who exactly is abusing Coley. And for me, personally, I got so anxious and upset and nervous that I had to cheat and flip ahead to see who it was. And the thing about Live Through This is that while it might not be a constant action sort of plot, it is the type of book where it’s constant emotion, constant GIRL I FEEL FOR YOU. Like, I wanted to take Coley aside and give her some rudimentary counseling and do some safety planning with her. I wanted her perpetrator to face some sort of consequence. Seriously, I was so invested in Mindi Scott’s Live Through This.

I thought Mindi Scott did a wonderful job with her characterization of Coley. She explores something that is not often mentioned in books about sexual abuse and that is the grooming process. You see, Coley exists in kind of this limbo where she feels a lot of revulsion and self-loathing because of how her body reacts to the abuse which is only natural and also because of the fact that she doesn’t hate the perpetrator. I just thought this was so well done. I loved that Coley was a character whom I actually really cared about. There were several pages where I’d find myself tearing up over what she was going through and her conflicting feelings. There’s an interesting dichotomy between Coley’s public popular girl facade and her nighttime secret. Mindi Scott accurately portrays the shame and the guilt Coley endears as well as a few of the psychological effects — like when Coley freaks out while getting hot and heavy with her current boyfriend.

I kind of want to go a little bit more in-depth on the long term sexual abuse theme. Grooming for those of you who maybe don’t know terminology is the process which the abuser uses to gain the trust of the victim. Typically rewards are involved. Sometimes the abuser will play on the loving feelings of the victim and say oh well this is just what people do when they love each other, etc etc. Then the abuser will use feelings of guilt to keep the victim silent. I thought that Mindi Scott showed this process quite well. She showed how Coley had a lot of trust and really cared for her abuser. She showed how Coley loved her abuser, but hated what he did. Also, she goes to dark places that I think a lot of us don’t think about or consider, places that if we were truly awful people we’d blame the victim for. Like, Live Through This has various parts where Coley has a physical reaction to her abuse. You guys that is natural. When you engage in sexual activity and certain parts are stimulated, you are going to feel something. That does not mean that the victim wanted it, just because they had a physical reaction. It’s how the body reacts, it’s not automatic consent. Unfortunately, victims will often blame themselves because of what their bodies do and that’s awful. And I mean, I’ve never really read a book that shows oh hey the victim might actually be physically stimulated while this is going on. I think that it helps to validate the feelings and experience of survivors, that Mindi Scott paints this conundrum in Live Through This. And maybe this paragraph is totally convoluted, but I just really wanted to put it out there that yes, victims do experience this and it’s totally not the victim asking for it.

Friends, if you are the victim of long term sexual abuse, please tell someone. Call your local rape crisis hotline if you aren’t ready to tell a friend or a family member. Trained people answer this hotline and they can hook you up with counseling resources and information. You do not deserve the abuse, even if your body reacts a certain way. It is not your fault. If you have a friend who is going through this, listen to them. Believe their story. Plenty of times, people are afraid to come forward because they are scared no one will believe what they say. Further, grooming is a bit like a mind game and yes it really does profoundly affect someone’s coming forward because they may actually believe telling will put them in danger. And whatever you do, do not blame the victim. If you think you can’t handle that, call a rape crisis hotline, again they can provide you with information on how to handle the situation and what to do.

Honestly, I didn’t mean to turn this review into a PSA on how to help people who are sexually victimized, but I’m not sorry. I think it’s so important to share this information because maybe someone reading this out there is going through something serious and this review could maybe help. Maybe Live Through This could provide some much needed bibliotherapy (reading about characters in situations similar to yours can be cathartic). Regardless, I absolutely recommend Live Through This by Mindi Scott with all my heart because it is emotional, it’s well written and it provides a much needed survivor perspective that absolutely does not blame the victim. Seriously, I ended up thanking Mindi Scott on the twitters for writing this book after I finished it.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of Live Through This by Mindi Scott:

Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – “I couldn’t set Live Through This Down once started reading.

Fiction Folio – “I had to sit on my couch for a while when I was finished just to process it all.

Rather Be Reading – “Here, folks, is the kind of writing I yearn for

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is 27 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. Two paragraphs in, I had to stop reading, open another internet window and check both of my libraries to see if they had this book.

    This is a great review/blog post. And yeah, it sounds like an incredible book. I am SO GLAD I am reading the contemporaries because I do not want to miss this. Also I love the way the cover kind of captures what you describe, how Coley feels – the guilt and shame and whatnot. Her feet and the way she is laying. It’s just lovely.

  2. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Like you, April, I had a very strong emotional reaction to this book. I had the opportunity to meet Mindi last summer and after reading her novel, it felt very personal to me. I have so much respect for her for writing this story. I hope these words are able to touch someone.. help someone.

  3. Oooh, I’m glad you’ll be bringing your work knowledge to the table, because you can probably teach me something!

    I almost never cheat and look ahead, but I did that with Nobody But Us. I had to look ahead and see where the book was going, and it went to the bad place. Sigh.

    Wow, this sounds incredibly intense and I wanted to read it before, but I really want it now. Beautiful. And I’m not sorry you turned the review into a PSA either. You know this stuff and it’s important to share.

  4. I’ve never read another book that dealt with sexual abuse in such a complex, nuanced manner. The other thing that struck me about Coley’s story–aside from her relationship with her abuse being handled so well–is that it never feels like “an issue book” despite the heavy subject matter.

    I appreciated your PSA, by the way–it’s important.

  5. This sounds like a tough one. I’d definitely have to wait till the niece and nephew weren’t in the house.

  6. This review has perfect timing. I’ve been going back and forth on if I wanted to read this one or not. I love contemporary YA that deals with tough issues, but there’s always the question of is the author going to do it justice or not. If you’re going to tackle such a heavy topic, it’s really important that it’s done realistically and well. It sounds like Scott did do that, though, so this will definitely be something I’m going to read.

  7. Great, great review, April. I had so many moments where I had to put this book down because I was so incredibly hurt by what was happening to Coley. Amazing writing, but wow did I just ache for Coley. I sincerely hope that your review & insight encourages people to pick up Live Through This.

  8. Wow – I’m just not even sure what to say about this! Honestly, I’d skimmed past this book before. I didn’t really want to read it, it seemed too dark for me. But your review? Well, I’ve got Amazon open in the other window (debating if I want Kindle or paper!) because this sounds just that wonderful.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  9. Great review, April!

    I really enjoyed reading your insights on this type of a situation, and I do hope more people are inspired to pick up this novel. Mindi is a fantastic storyteller who is able to uncover both the raw truths of this situation and those lighter sides.

    P.S. Have you read The Mockingbirds? A few details you pointed out reminded me of that book a lot.

    Thanks for also including my review!

  10. I recently read an ARC of Pretty Girl-13 and it briefly touches on subject of long term abuse and confusion of emotions that can stem from it. It also deals with DID. Live Through This sounds like it’d be a good read for those who have dealt with abuse, but also a good book to open up conversation about incest, which most families never talk about or warn against. I will definitely be reading this book in the future!

  11. I think I need to drop everything and read this book ASAP. Yes, there are a lot of YA books out there that deal with rape, but I haven’t read one that poses the conundrums that you say this one does. Excellent review!

  12. Wow, this book was already on my wish list. Now I feel like I have to read it NOW. Thanks for the great review, and the PSA. You never know who your words will reach, and how many lives they will touch.

  13. During my freshman year of college, a guy broke into a girl’s room and raped her. Her roommate was also in the room and asleep at the time, but she woke up when she heard moaning and assumed the roommate was having consensual sex. At the trial, the fact that the girl’s legs were wrapped around the guy and that she moaned was used by the defense as evidence it was consensual. It was such a discussion point for everyone in my dorm because some people, including girls, thought the fact that the victim moaned and didn’t scream showed it wasn’t rape. It was appalling. This is such an important issue and I will definitely see how it is explored in this book. I bought it when it came out and have been meaning to read it for ages. Moving it up the list.

  14. I still think about this book, weeks after I read it. I think it’s one of those books that will always stick with me, or anyone else that reads it, because it is so moving and emotional.

    PS Thank you for the link mention :)

  15. This book has a powerful message to it, which is something I can definitely appreciate. I really liked that you managed to include some of your professional knowledge in your review, as I certainly believe that there are people who might come across your post and find just what they need. I’m going to see if I can find a copy of this book, so that I can read it for myself.

  16. Just reading your review teared me up! And I had to click on my Goodreads to add the book to my TBR before I finished reading your review! I am very lucky that nothing abusive has ever happened to me, but I think it is very important to be aware of what can happen, and a good written book is sometimes the best way to get that.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review April.

Trackbacks

  1. […] to discuss it with people in her life and to write about it on her blog. In her review of the book (posted here), she also further discussed sexual abuse and included insight and advice on the topic from her […]

  2. […] “I absolutely recommend Live Through This by Mindi Scott with all my heart because it is emotional, it’s well written and it provides a much needed survivor perspective that absolutely does not blame the victim.” – April, community educator for a domestic violence/rape crisis agency […]

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