If You Tell by Gregg Olsen #bookreview

If You Tell Gregg Olsen

About the book…

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.

My thoughts on If You Tell…

Blame it on podcasts but I’ve recently become fascinated by true crime, something that just wasn’t the case before. Before, I used to like my crime fictional with strong female protagonists and killers that didn’t seem to die until the very last page. Now, I like to read about what really happened, though given how horrific some of these stories are, I’m not sure it’s really a good idea!

That’s definitely how I felt at points in If You Tell.  There were times when I just didn’t want to pick it up because the story was so relentlessly bad. Three young girls desperate for the love of a mother who the word psycho seems to have been made for. A woman so evil that anyone who trusted her came to regret it (if they didn’t end up dead first).  It’s also a story of triumph over adversity, of people coming good despite having a horrendous start in life, a life I couldn’t imagine living.

All this makes for a fascinating story, one that sent me to google to find out more. Unfortunately, the relentlessness of Shelly Knotek doesn’t necessarily make for a good book – at least not for me.  After a while, the repetitiveness of what she did, how she behaved, started to make me feel somewhat numb. This wasn’t helped by the way the story was told, with the girls reminiscing and reliving conversations.

For me, there were too many places where these took over from hard facts; it’s hard when you are only being given one side of the story. There were also too few other voices. Interviews with other people would, I think, have helped paint a more rounded picture, one with real depth.

Which leaves liking but not loving the book.  Sorry!

Emma x

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own. 


  1. I think it takes a great author to make a true crime novel worth reading and so I am very hit or miss with them.


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