Book Review: Some Truths Lie Beneath by Rebecca Colt Aslan

Revisiting the past demands courage; when done with sensibility, the life experiences can provide a better understanding of ourselves. The book denotes that accepting unpleasant times is an act of healing, and we have the power to decide the course of our lives. ‘Some Truths Lie Beneath’ is a bundle of twists and turns life throws and the journey of sailing through. Tracing through the life-defining times of the author’s life which reveals the relationship with her parents, the physical and emotional abuse she survived, and most importantly the acceptance of ups and downs. An intense heart-to-heart, the book feels like a moment of vulnerability shared between best friends. The narrator opens up about her past with honesty and trust, inviting readers not only to witness her story, but to be part of a heart-rending conversation.

When the person we trust tries to harm us, we are shattered and left in disbelief and pain. Some people who try to misuse their position and power to please themselves at the expense of others, and such instances have been a part of the author’s life. Accounting for the sexual abuse and emotional distress, the author has written about the intricacies of trauma, reflecting on the naivety and innocence of a victim. The story does not dwell upon instances of assault but converses about life before and after the experiences. Unfolding every page is a journey traversing through a bruised but courageous heart. The depth of writing lets you search for the same courage in your heart. From childhood to teenage to adulthood, it’s a passionate attempt to look back, share and hope to provide support to others who have gone through the same.

Our sense of self and world is deeply impacted by our upbringing, our parents, and family. From ways of thinking and behaving to making sense of body changes, the chapters of this book reveal how parents play a crucial role in the ways children understand themselves and others. The author narrates about her unhealthy relationship with sex, impacted by the conservative parenting style of her parents, especially her mother. The book puts forward the negative impact of controlling parenting. Trying to control the child, using fear and humiliation creates insecurities that take lifelong to heal. Reading through the author’s life, we seek to reflect on our childhood, the bitter-sweet experiences of growing up, and how greatly they have impacted our lives.

Tracing the interactions between the author and her parents, we learn how childhood trauma can stay as a burden, leading to some serious consequences and affecting the relationship between self and society. In a few pages, the book graciously explores the complexities of parent-child relationship. The narration is not of resentment but of reminiscence and learning. Hurt by their actions, we can make distance from our parents, but the desire to have them in life persists. The book represents this dilemma and explores the impact of emotional toll and the path to healing.

The story is small but profound, connecting the past, present, and future of the author’s life. It also reflects the thoughts of ‘what could have been.’ The author’s troubled and toxic relationship with her mother instilled anger and resentment in her heart, which faded over time. Still the sadness of missing a mother’s ‘unconditional love’ has made a home in her. The author looks at the missing parts of life through the lens of acceptance, not resentment.

We cannot decide the family of our birth, but we can decide the family in which we want our children and us to grow up, the chosen family of ours, the friends. After family, friends are the most influential relationships; what family lacks, friends can provide generously. In times of need, the author finds solace in strangers turned friends. The author’s life story is an example that sometimes strangers can be more understanding and helpful than family. Chosen family vs blood family is an interesting and important aspect to dwell upon, especially in situations of vulnerability.

In a patriarchal society, the home becomes the site of oppression. The story highlights the theme of agency over one’s body and movement. In the scenario of toxic parenting, control of the movement of children, restricting interactions and sheltering within decided boundaries create only unhealthy environments, which makes it difficult for one to thrive without any agency over self. The author’s story provides a view on highly patriarchal and deeply gendered socialisation, and its negative impact of creating unhealthy relationships with intimacy, creating a troubled understanding of sexual expressions. The author’s experiences highlight the importance of sex education to learn about puberty, sexual health, and intimate behaviours.

Patriarchal upbringing tends to present women as sex objects to be used by men for pleasure; sexual assault is a performance of power and oppression rather than the lust. Sexual predators take advantage of trust and innocence, targeting the vulnerable and young. Sexual abuse shatters the understanding of freedom and agency, the violation of the body creates deep scars, and trauma lingers as a constant pain, impacting the trajectory of life. The book is about moving forward, healing the trauma, and making way for life.

Looking back at certain times/ situations, it surprises us how a person who made us feel so safe and comfortable used that to betray us in the end and how so unknowingly we gave in without anticipating the outcome. The author’s honesty about her experiences and her trust in other people makes us sympathise with her, and it feels like she is telling her story directly to the reader, sitting in front of us, sharing an intimate piece of her heart.

The author’s courage to share the disturbing instances of her life feels like a friend’s attempt to be vulnerable, to be a cautionary tale for other friends, in an attempt to safeguard them. It is also an inspiring story of sailing through difficulties and living on one’s own terms. An emotional, gracious attempt at retracing life and reflecting upon the impact of life-changing instances. It takes time to make peace with the past and accept the way life has happened. By sharing her story, the author has provided a space for readers to be vulnerable. It is a great short, intense read for every adult seeking to understand and accept life. The book provides comfort by inspiring you to chase the goals of life, no matter the complexities.

Read: An Interview with Rebecca Colt Aslan, Author of Some Truths Lie Beneath

Some Truths Lie Beneath is available for pre-order on Amazon

Share on:

Tamanna Nandal, a passionate master's student in Sociology with a keen interest in human experiences, completed her graduation from UoD. She is currently enrolled at Ambedkar University. When not immersed in academic pursuits, she ventures into the artistic world through poems and photography. Tamanna finds solace in the pages of fiction, fantasy, and short stories, making literature an integral part of her life.