“A third of children who have been sexually abused never tell”.
I am really thrilled to have had another opportunity to review the newest release from Cathy Glass – Too Scared to Tell. I have been reading and reviewing her fostering stories for quite some time now, but I still get just as excited by a new release as I was by the first ever Cathy Glass book I picked up.
Cathy writes true life stories about her experiences with the children she fosters, and has cared for over 150 children for over 25 years. Each of her stories tends to focus on her different types of experiences, i.e one of her books featured a child batting with gender fluidity (like Finding Stevie) another is about a child with a sick parent, has obesity (like Cruel to be Kind), has been severely neglected (A Long Way From Home), has learning difficulties and is pregnant (Can I Let You Go?), deals with shocking abuse etc.
HarperCollins Publishers have kindly sent me latest release and this tells the story of six year old Oskar, who arrives into care hungry, quiet and with a red mark on his face. Originally from Eastern Europe, his mother is often abroad whilst he remains in England with one of his many “uncles,” and whilst he has good English, Oskar is very withdrawn. Yet despite his taciturnity, Cathy soon discovers Oskar’s anxiety about getting undressed, his reservations towards her eldest son, Adrian, and his fear and anxiety towards the men who sinisterly watch him from their car as he goes to school.
As the book begins with a quote on sexual abuse, Cathy’s readers are already prepared for some of what happens to Oskar, but as the truth and the nightmares come out, it’s heartbreaking reading about how Cathy gently encourages the devastating truth from him, and reading about how Oskar’s story unfolds.
It’s always difficult to read these types of stories and not judge i.e. the Mother, but the sad thing I take from reading these is that a lot of the time, families are often supported by single parents who work all hours trying to make ends meet, (or in this case – Mum, Roksana, is both working long hours and travelling to look after another sick child) and end up leaving their children with people they think they can trust. Although I felt sympathetic reading this, it’s hard to understand how leaving Oskar in the complex living situation he was in ever seemed like a good idea.
Luckily, Oskar has a strong support network at school and is essentially saved by one of his teachers – which hopefully is an example to anyone reading Oskar’s story that we should all be vigilant for signs of neglected children who come into school:
“Being hungry and unkempt weren’t the only reasons Oskar, aged six, was being brought into care. He was pale, withdrawn and so tired he kept falling asleep in class, and sometimes he arrived at school with unexplained bruises on his arms and legs.“
Oskar’s story is a testament to Cathy Glass as a foster carer and also to Oskar’s teacher at school. As always, I shed a little tear at the ending – for a couple of reasons! – and would encourage anyone of most age groups to read these. My mum is in her sixties and loves Cathy’s books and I started reading these when I was a teen
You don’t need to read Cathy’s other stories to be able to enjoy her newer releases – and despite the darker tones to the books, Cathy’s writing style is very light and reader-friendly so makes for an easy read and I always devour her books in about a day.