Tears of the Silenced: An Amish True Crime Memoir by Misty Griffen

Is it read-worth? In my brutally honest opinion, no. It’s poorly written, the dialogue is weak, and its story-line feels too impossibly negative to be real even though it is apparently a true story. A lot of people sung praises for this book, however, so if you can get through it, see what you think.

Back of the book:

Surviving Severe Child Abuse, Sexual Assault and Leaving the Amish Church. A gripping true story that takes you on the journey of a child abuse and sexual assault survivor turned activist. Photo Gallery in the back of the book.

True story of child abuse. When Misty Griffin was six years old, her family started to live and dress like the Amish. Misty and her sister were kept as slaves on a mountain ranch and subjected to almost complete isolation, sexual abuse, and extreme physical violence. Their step-father kept a loaded rifle by the door to make sure the young girls were too terrified to try to escape. No rescue would ever come since the few people who knew they existed did not care.

Sexual abuse among the Amish. When Misty reached her teens, her parents feared she and her sister would escape and took them to an Amish community. Devastated to again find herself in a world of fear, cruelty, and abuse, Misty was sexually assaulted by the bishop. As Misty recalls, “Amish sexual abusers are only shunned by the church for six weeks, a punishment that never seems to work….I knew I had to get help, and one freezing morning in early March, I made a dash for a tiny police station in rural Minnesota. After reporting the bishop, I left the Amish and found myself plummeted into a strange modern world with only a second-grade education and no ID or social security card.”

What’s my take on it?

I feel like a lot of modern readers have a problem separating the quality of a story and the quality of a book’s contents. Tears of the Silenced and it’s overwhelmingly positive reviews are a prime example of this. Because the author’s supposedly true story is so hard to believe and is wrought with horrors, people tend not to review it negatively. They’re overcome by the author’s ability to survive and inspired by her emergence into a free new world, escaping from the abusive Amish community she had joined. This is great – as an inspirational piece, as a speech. But as a book? It’s just not very good.

First off, Tears of the Silenced is poorly written, the dialogue is exceedingly weak, and the refusal to show any type of positive component in Amish society left me feeling as if this was a trashy piece of fiction and not a memoir. I just couldn’t imagine that there were no positive parts of her life, especially when even her relationship with her sister left me feeling like something integral was missing. Maybe the author felt that including happy parts of her life would take away from the trauma she faced or excuse the sexual abuse encountered by Amish women. I don’t agree with that mindset. One of the hardest parts of sexual abuse is the fact that abusers are often extremely kind and caring when it suits them. It makes the abuse harder to comprehend as abuse and makes victims less likely to come forward. In no part of this book did the author describe any small kindness from any of her abusers, sexual or otherwise. It felt unrealistic and, more than that, it failed to acknowledge the very real problems associated with surviving abuse. Abuse and abusers are complex, not one-dimensional. People who have been abused often have positive memories of their abusers that they need help to accept and understand in combination with the abuse they have suffered. Additionally, the fact that the villains in this book were so excessively evil was strange from a story-line prospective. No person is entirely one dimensional. Even the most evil person tends to have a couple good days. Where were they mentioned?

Plus, while I understand that the author had missed out on a lot of education growing up, it was very poorly written for someone who described themselves as receiving accolades for their writing. At the end of the novel, she mentioned how a professor felt that he could taste a pie she had written about because of how detailed her writing was. Where was that type of descriptive writing in this piece? Where was the attention to grammar? Why was the dialogue so poorly done? Where was any kind of good writing skills? All in all, it was an inspirational shove to fight against abuse, but not necessarily a good read. I didn’t personally enjoy i.

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