Welcome to the Nudge stop on the blog tour for Indescribable by Candice Derman!
Here’s a little info about the book:
Indescribable is the chilling story of the abuse South African actress Candice Derman suffered at the hands of her stepfather, the man she called ‘Dad’. Told entirely from the perspective of her childhood self, Indescribable explores Candice’s traumatic past, opening our eyes to the complexities of sexual abuse and how easy it can be for such a secret to go unseen. First published in South Africa in 2010 to critical and commercial acclaim, this book gives important insight into the mind of a sexual abuse victim and should be compulsory reading worldwide.
And a little about author Candice Derman:
Candice Derman is a renowned South African actress who launched her career as a TV host and later became a household name for her roles in South African soaps. Her story was first published in SA in 2010 under the same title. Candice now lives in London with her husband and daughter.
And now for Paul Burke’s review of Indescribable:
This memoir sat on my TBR pile for some time, I was tempted not to review it, or more accurately, not to read it – a touch of cowardice probably. It is such a daunting subject and the subtitle leaves no doubt about what’s to come: “An important and harrowing memoir of sexual abuse.” However, Indescribable deals with a vital topic, and what survivors have to tell us matters. Hopefully listening will help to make things better for future generations because abuse devastates many lives. I’m no expert but this is a cogent and heartfelt account of surviving the nightmare of an abusive childhood;, its an extremely upsetting read. Indescribable is very honest, Candice’s experience lasted for several years (from the age of eight to fourteen). Ultimately though, this is an uplifting read because Candice is a survivor. What could be worse than this kind of betrayal by the man she called Dad? To come through that and manage to carve out a decent life for yourself and your own family speaks volumes for her courage and strength.
Candice opens her memoir with this disarming passage, it could be the experience of any normal happy/unhappy child:
“My name is Candice Derman. I am 8 years old, I live in Johannesburg, South Africa….I like swimming parties, spare ribs and cats. My mom got divorced. My father moved out but I’m not sad. He was always cross and slept a lot. My mom’s getting remarried. I am so excited about my new dad. He gives me so much attention.”
It’s the next sentence that breaks the spell:
“The attention feels good when he’s not touching me there.”
Candice continues in that child-like voice, putting herself back in the moment, to tell her story as she experienced it all those years ago. Candice, her mother and sisters are taken to the beach by Joe, the new boyfriend. Clearly her mother trusts this man to be in their company. Soon after, Joe commits the first assault on Candice, but the next morning everyone is acting as normal around the house. Candice changes from the “happy, brave, naughty and nice” little girl into a withdrawn and confused child. Envisioning herself outside of the nightmare as a coping mechanism. The lists she writes of “things I have learned” are so poignant (the good and the bad, the latter stuff a child should not have to know). The abuse is incremental to the point where she is raped at the age of eleven. Candice seeks to protect her mother and sisters from the knowledge and has to suffer Joe’s jealousy and the psychological torture of withholding his approval as a punishment. Amidst this Candice has dreams, she wants to be an actress. Joe seeks to justify his actions as love. Candice’s schoolwork suffers, her first boyfriend, Dale, dies in a car crash. Eventually the truth comes out, Candice has to see a psychologist, talk to the police, and undergo examinations by a gynaecologist. Yet, she loves drama and is already thinking about healing. Joe is sentenced to two years in prison. The end to the story is that Candice is happily married. She thinks less and less about Joe and has more, much more, love than hate in her life.
How any court could come to the decision to sent the perpetrator of this evil away for so short a time is beyond my understanding. Hopefully, even a few short years later, this issue is taken more seriously in South Africa, as it should be everywhere. Affecting and at times heartbreaking and raw, Candice leaves us with the feeling that writing this book was empowering, that she feels the experience was cathartic. Candice Derman may not be very familiar in this country but she is a well-known personality in South Africa. She has starred in soap operas and been a TV host since the mid-1990s. She now lives in the UK with her family. Indescribable was originally published in South Africa in 2010.
Paul Burke 3/3
Indescribable by Candice Derman
Quartet Books 9780704374553 pbk Oct 2018