Daily Archives: July 5, 2011

Speaking Truths by Dayna Hester

Speaking TruthsReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

What would it be like to be abducted as a child, to be sexually abused for years, to be conditioned through beatings and threats to think of your abuser as your “father,” and that your birth parents hated you and didn’t want you anymore? What would you believe: the “truth” of your everyday existence, the “truth” that your abductor wants you to believe, these “truths” that have defined who you are for years; or, the actual truth that you were in reality kidnaped away from loving parents who never stopped caring for you and loving you, and that you’ve been brutalized by a monster in human form who has succeeded in brainwashing you, convincing you that his lies are the truth? Speaking Truths is a powerful, page-turning, thought-provoking book by the talented author Dayna Hester about a teen who was abducted as a boy, was abused by his captor, and who has been told lies for so long by his abductor that he has trouble knowing what is the “truth” anymore.

Told in the first person, from the POV of the abused teen, Speaking Truths offers much insight into the horrific trauma that victims of child abuse often suffer, and the long road they must travel once removed from their abusive situation towards any semblance of normality. At the beginning of the book, we see the world through the eyes of a teen who believes his name is Landon Starker. He has a low opinion of himself, though he is in reality a survivor, and he has an even lower opinion of the other students in his high school, their parents, and his teachers. Landon has come to believe that any abuse that the man who he’s come to know as “Bob,” whose name is actually Robert Starker, is a result of Landon’s own stupidity, and is a fit punishment for whatever he might have done in any particular circumstance.

When Landon notes any behavior displayed by his classmates which he thinks is stupid and would warrant himself getting abused by Bob, he feels hatred towards them and how stupidly they’re acting. He believes that parent-teacher nights are a sham, and that the parents who show up for them are not really there because they love their children and want to know how they’re doing, but they’re there just to try to fool teachers into thinking that they care. He thinks the truth about himself was that, no matter how badly Bob treats him, and K.C., a boy whom Bob had previously abducted and whom Landon (Tyler Roberts is his birth name), Bob is still better than his birth parents. Sure, Bob is a drunk, he beats K.C. (who has disappeared) and Landon, and holds a gun to Landon’s forehead; but, Bob is the one who Landon believes has rescued him both from parents who didn’t love him, and also a shelter where he was forced to remain in a closet for hours at a time.