cover image The Telling

The Telling

Zoe Zolbrod. Curbside Splendor, $16.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-940430-74-4

Zolbrod, a novelist and editor for the Rumpus, who was molested starting when she was four by a teenage cousin living with her family, wrestles in clear-eyed, honest prose with her resulting uncertainties, conflicting emotions, and determination to move forward. Growing up white-collar in blue-collar Pennsylvania, she’s very close to her father but has a more tense relationship with her mother. She’s 12 when she first tells a friend what her cousin did, but she doesn’t yet understand it. Years pass before Zolbrod, in college, opens up again, this time to a boyfriend. In her late 20s, after unexpectedly blurting out what happened to her aunt, she finally discloses the abuse to her parents. She wants them to be outraged, but their muted responses leave her feeling like “the secret was out, and it didn’t matter.” She’s angry and confused as she probes whether she was all that traumatized and what it means if she decides, contrary to the current cultural attitudes about child sexual abuse, that she wasn’t. Zolbrod shows great courage as she tries to answer difficult and troubling questions about herself and her family, a powerfully rendered struggle that will strike a chord with abuse survivors and their loved ones. (May)