When I decided to read All We Knew But Couldn’t Say by Joanne Vannicola, I knew from the blurb that this memoir would not be an easy read, and I was right. It is not easy to read parts of this tale, but I am so very glad that I did.
This is a memoir, an autobiography of Joanne Vannicola’s life from the age of five until the present day. As a young child, she and her sisters endured what I can only call horrific physical, emotional, and (at least for Joanne) sexual child abuse. What makes it even more horrifying, this abuse comes from her parents. Her father was a monster who used to physically beat the children for minor infractions. Her mother was mentally and emotionally unstable, and unfit to be in a parental role. Ms. Vannicola is brutally frank about what she went though as a young girl and how it affected her later as a teen and young adult.
This sounds like a depressing story, and obviously part of the story is hard to read, but it is also inspiring. This is a story of survival. This is the tale of a person who survives an extremely horrible childhood, and works through the trauma to become an Emmy award winning actress, an activist for women, for children of sexual abuse, and for the LGBTQ2+ community. Joanne Vannicola is an inspiration to me, and if you read her book, I think she will be one for you as well.
I must give a trigger warning here. This story discusses episodes of child abuse that occurred in the author’s life. If these stories could cause triggers for you, you might want to read another book.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and Dundurn Press for an honest review.