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Sarah's Corner -- If You Tell

Updated: Jan 31

Hello all our lovely followers! Apologies for being so absent. It feels like I haven't posted in awhile though it wasn't too long ago we reviewed Flamecaster. No worries, we are still working on the Shattered Realms series. I almost have the second finished up, but I was reading this book when taking a break and dear lord........




#1 New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen’s shocking and empowering true-crime story of three sisters determined to survive their mother’s house of horrors.


After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.


For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.

Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil—and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today—loving, loved, and moving on.


So let me just start by saying, this is not a usual read for me. I don't typically grab something like this off the shelf, but I came across an article that said " Top 25 messed up books" or something similar to that anyway. This was one of the ones listed and the person who wrote down summarizations, said that the things this lady did, had her wondering who could even think up something for this fiction. But then the reader realized that this was all based on truth and it made her even more upset at the fact this all actually happened. So, I took interest and saw that it was available to download with my Kindle Unlimited, bam. Done.


Dear lord.......


The writing in this was not one I particularly fancied. It seemed almost like an interview at some points and then the story at others. I understand now why it seemed to be this way, but it had me a little put off in the beginning. That is until stuff started to go down and the plot points began to happen. After that I found myself stuck to my kindle screen and reading this going "Wtf....." to myself.....and to a couple friends......Heck even sitting here after finishing, I am waiting for Monday so I can really tell Ashley all about it.


Anyway! So you kind of start off learning about the childhood of Michelle aka Shelly. She did some pretty horrible things to her dad, by saying he raped her and trying to destroy his image just to get what she wanted. Even as a kid she had to have all the attention. I never really learned what happened to her siblings, except I know her brother ended up in jail at one point or another ( this is how she takes in Shane, her brother's son). So you go okay, the dad is a total enabler, gives her anything he wants and she manipulates them. The only one she can't fully manipulate is her step-mom Tara. Go Tara! Though she should have done more for these kids when she knew that Shelly was a complete liar and a fake.


But then again, it's easy for me to say this. And for other readers it is easy to say " They should have done more", or "why didn't they say anything?" I did not grow up in this kind of situation. I do not know what makes one so terrified. You get some insight of that in the book, about how they were afraid of tearing their family apart or that they loved their mother. I am sure with how much Shelly interfered in their lives and tricked them, it would be a total mind blow for these kids.


Back on track though.... So you follow Shelly's life in a way and how she goes through 3 husbands. Her 3rd husband being the idiot that stuck with her and refused to see that what was happening was a manipulation of Shelly. She would focus so much of her attention on Nikki ( the eldest daughter) and Shane. She would beat them, make them get naked in the cold, tie them up to chairs etc. She would tell Nikki she was a pig and disgusting, proceed to wallow her and make her sit outside in the cold, completely wet, and tell her how disgusting and unloved she was. One moment that really stuck in my head was when she duct taped Shane naked to the chair and put icy hot on his privates.


This continues until she gets pregnant with Tori and focuses her attention on her best friend Kathy. Kathy loses her job and Shelly brings her in. It's all nice and well until Shelly starts to mistreat Kathy next. There are horrible things she does to her, waterboards her once, makes her think that she is sleepwalking naked into Shane's room, placing her in a trunk whenever they leave. It goes on for years as she just starts to take Kathy's personal belongings, drugging her along the way. She would make Kathy work naked around the house, the things she did to her "best" friend was so extensive. Eventually Kathy's body couldn't take it anymore. Shelly would feed her weeks old food that she made into a smoothie, make her sleep outside naked, she could not use the restroom without permission, Shelly would make her bathe in bleach, the list goes on and on. Finally Kathy began to choke on her own vomit, David ( the 3rd husband) comes in and sees that she isn't breathing and tries to resuscitate her, but is unable to do so. Instead of calling the cops, he goes and burns the body. They make it look like Kathy had run off with a guy and they haven't heard from her. The kids know better, at least Nikki and Shane.


Shelly does this to yet another victim named Ron, who Tori grew fond of. Not to mention, Shane also goes "away". When Shelly said that Shane went to Alaska as I reader, I knew he was dead which was super depressing. Towards the end you find out what happened. Dave Knotek went and shot him in the head while he was in the farmhouse. He claimed he did it for Shelly, who kept getting on his case to get rid of Shane else he would ruin their family and tell about Kathy.


Overall this book, you get that feeling this is fiction, but no. This all took place in Washington. David Knotek is now out of prison as of 2016 and Michelle "Shelly" Knotek will be out of prison as of 2022. The daughters got together and helped create this book in order to get others to know that she is a master manipulator and to steer clear because they believe she could kill again She will only be in her sixties when she is released, which gives her plenty of time to latch onto another victim.




Overall I would give this 3 out of 5 stars.

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