Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika

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Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A strangely uplifting and beautifully-told story of the sexual abuse suffered by thirteen-year-old Malvina. It should be compulsory reading for anyone who has anything to do with children. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: November 2010
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
ISBN: 978-1849390606

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Malvina is thirteen years old, the youngest of three children in a dysfunctional family. Her father is a very grumpy teacher, with little understanding of children, whilst her mother seems to suffer permanently from migraine. She has a good friend, Lizzy, and they play together as much as they can, united in their dislike of the 'boys from the estate'. Her grandmother died last year, leaving her granddad on his own and it's Malvina's job to go and visit him and take him his meals. The family think this is a great arrangement because they know how much Granddad loves Malvina and looks forward to her visits. There's a problem though. Malvina doesn't like going, particularly on her own. Granddad kisses her on the mouth.

If you have anything to do with children nearing puberty you must read this book. It's one of the most perceptive books I've read in a long time. I began by having a little sympathy for Malvina's family. Visiting an old person is perhaps not the most exciting thing to do with your time, but it's not an unreasonable sacrifice to ask. But as I read on, I realised what was happening and how Granddad manipulated and used Malvina, how he proved to her that even if she told her family what was happening they would not believe her, that she would be the one who got the blame. The more I read, the more shocking it became as I realised the wall of conniving silence which protected Malvina's grandfather.

I wanted to scream at her family that they should listen to ‘exactly' what she was saying to them, believe her and ask questions. Then I wondered how many other girls or boys of that age are in a similar position, left to the mercy of evil and warped adults because it suits those around to turn a blind eye, to feel that it's better than scandal. Read this book and understand why it is deeply wrong. It's only a minority of adults who are warped, but the effects of sexual abuse on a child can be devastating and long lasting.

For a book which deals with such a difficult subject it's strangely uplifting, with a feeling that good will triumph in the end and that some of the most unexpected people will turn up trumps. The language is poetic, the story lyrically told and the subject matter terrifying. Please read the book – but whatever else you do – listen carefully to what children tell you.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to Bookbag.

For more non-fiction on a similar subject have a look at How Could He Do It? by Emma Charles and How Could She? by Dana Fowley. For more from a fictional point of view see Micka by Frances Kay.

Buy Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Learning to Scream by Beate Teresa Hanika at Amazon.com.


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