Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silent No More by Aaron Fisher with Michael Gillum and Dawn Daniels

Title: Silent No More:
Author: Aaron Fisher with Michael Gillum and Dawn Daniels
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Pages: 240 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry SanduskyVictim 1, at fourteen years of age, spoke up against Jerry Sandusky in the Penn State scandal, and now for the first time tells his story.

Aaron Fisher was an eager and spirited eleven-year-old when legendary Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky recruited him into his Second Mile children’s charity. Offering support at a critical time in Aaron’s life, Sandusky gave him gifts and attention, winning the boy’s trust even as he isolated him from his family and peers. Before long, Sandusky’s attention escalated into sexual assault. When Aaron summoned the courage to speak up, he found himself ostracized and harassed by the very people who were supposed to protect him. The investigation set off by his coming forward would drag on for three years—and would launch the biggest scandal in the history of sports.

In Silent No More, Aaron Fisher recounts his harrowing quest to bring Sandusky’s crimes to light—from the intense feelings of guilt that kept him from speaking up earlier and the fear he felt at accusing a man who was a pillar of the community and a hero to the largest alumni network in the world, to the infuriating delays in the arrest and conviction of his abuser. He catalogs the devastating personal toll the case took on him: the shattered relationships, panic attacks, and betrayal of trust that continued to haunt him even after the charges went public in the fall of 2011. But he also speaks of his mother’s desperate efforts to get him out of harm’s way, the invaluable help of psychologist Michael Gillum, and the vindication he felt at inspiring numerous other victims to step forward . . . and at knowing that, thanks to him, there would be no future victims of Jerry Sandusky.

In the end, Aaron Fisher won his fight to expose the truth, achieving some measure of closure. Told in the honest and unforgettable voices of Aaron; his mother, Dawn; and his psychologist, Mike, this inspiring book completes Aaron’s transformation from a nameless casualty into a resounding voice for change.


Dear Aaron,

Before I say anything else, I want to thank you for having the courage to go public with your identity and story. I followed the scandal from the moment your abuser was arrested in November 2011 to the trial in June 2012 to now, when I found out about this book and knew I had to read it despite it being far from what I usually read. I knew a little about what you'd been through, but after reading Silent No More, I feel like I know so much more.

Honestly, you're much stronger than I am despite only being two months older than me. I feel like I understand you in some small way because when I was twelve, my brother's best friend sexually abused me. It was only one night compared to your months of hell, and I am constantly thankful it wasn't any worse than it was. Still, it took me six months to tell my family. My parents never considered calling the police or talking to someone who could get him arrested. I didn't think about it either. I never saw a therapist until I got to college and that was for an unrelated issue.

To this day, he walks free and has a military career, wife, and newborn son. April 2013 will be seven years since I woke up in the middle of the night to his hands crawling all over me, grabbing me in places he wasn't supposed to. At this very moment, he's visiting my family and considered another son. Apparently, I said it was okay for him to come back into our home when I was fourteen, but I don't remember this conversation. Even if I did, I was fourteen and they pressured me into saying he could come back into our home. If I could be pressured into letting a total creep stay in our house for six months when I was seventeen, I was definitely pressured into letting him back into our home.

The point is, you're not alone. I'm sure you know that, especially after the trial, but I also said all that to get across the point that eventually, it may get better. I can think about it and talk about it without wanting to cry or vomit. Hopefully, you'll be able to one day too.

Of course, it may not. It depends on the person. I think you're strong enough to make it.

Your story is so raw and so painful. Even if I weren't already so invested in what will probably go down as one of the biggest scandals in college football history, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to put your book down any more easily. I always try not to judge and think in dimensions, but after reading about what you went through and the hellish legal process that led up to Sandusky's arrest and trial, I feel like the even-handed thoughts I had during the trial are just shallow and as judgmental as all the people who called your mother horrible for not realizing what was going on sooner.

I'm a little disappointed most of the book is narrated by Mike, but I understand why. He has more professional experience in these matters, he was more involved in the legal wranglings that make up most of the second third of this book, and you weren't able to put parts of your years-long nightmare into words yourself. Still, hearing Mike tell me how you felt during such-and-such time lacks the impact of you telling me that yourself. This book is supposed to be your story and your hell and when he's telling most of it, it loses some of the power it needs to have. He's also very conspiratorial when a lot of his conspiracies and speculations have no base or support.

I wish I could meet you in person and tell you this myself, if that doesn't sound too creepy. The way they had you posed on the cover and the look in your eyes makes you seem so vulnerable and I'd like to be your friend even though the posing was quite purposeful. We'd never have to talk about what happened to us unless we wanted to either; we could talk about our dreams and stupid things that happen in our lives and just be who we are. People like us need friends who understand.

I hope you'll be able to become a state trooper one day like you want to, and I hope your book will be able to open the eyes of at least one person. There may be very little in your book that I haven't found out during my research and while watching trial coverage, but hearing it in your own words makes it that much more powerful. Our experiences, unfortunately, have made us who we are, but they will never define us.

All the best,

Ashleigh Paige

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso