If You Tell - Gregg Olsen

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The true story of three sisters forever bound not only by blood but by the trauma inflicted at the hands of their mother, Michelle "Shelly" Knotek. Pros: incredible story, important to read and shine light on survivors of abuse, extremely well done. Cons: very, very heavy to read, lots of trauma and pain, proceed with caution.


Also, please enjoy my GoodReads review and follow me there if you'd like! This review is a great summary of all the things I plan to discuss at length below.


I, for the life of me, cannot remember where I heard about this book, when I decided to download it or if I knew anything about it going in but knowing myself... I would have to say that I knew next to nothing about this or I would never have read it. Not because its a bad book, it's actually an amazing book. It was just a very challenging one for me to read personally.



Gregg Olsen did an incredible job writing this, I'm imagining it had to have been difficult just to hear these stories recounted from the mouths of the victims. Then to go on and organize into such a well written piece of non-fiction, it could never be me. I can't say enough about how important it was to get to hear from the girls who had suffered so much.

My heart hurt pretty instantly because the story is one of 3 sisters, connected always but bonded by what they saw, heard, felt and experienced at the hands of their incredibly sadistic mother Shelly. It seemed that everyone who crossed paths with Shelly didn't come away from the experience with anything positive. She is a one woman disaster with no compassion or self awareness to the horrific things she does.

The 3 sisters instantly had me in their hands. I have two sisters of my own and I felt for each of them because it felt like I knew them, I was them. They so bravely articulated everything that I felt like I was sitting alongside them watching it all unfold.



  • Shelly is the kind of person that is the most dangerous in my opinion because she is not considered or perceived by many as an obvious threat. As a good looking, intelligent white woman, she doesn't scream "BE AFRAID OF ME" and actually, she leans into her appeal in order to lower the guards of people around her and then by the time you realize there is a problem, it's too late.

  • Hearing how the girls have grown and moved on from this was overwhelming. They are doing the best to be their best despite being put through the worst. I am proud of all of them in their own ways. The ones who have zero contact with either parent and the ones who still have them involved to a certain extent. The bond between a parent and a child is very strong and not easily severed. I hope the girls continue to push forward and protect themselves above everything.

  • Shelly is set to be released this year- 2022, as if the world hasn't been through enough lately and the girls wanted to share their story in hopes that anyone who may come into contact with Shelly will be warned and know exactly who they are dealing with. I am afraid for this woman to be released. I am afraid of what it might do to these girls. I am sure every second closer feels more and more terrifying.


This isn't a book I read lightly. I ended up having to take several breaks, put the book down, walk away, drink some water, settle down and resume, each time reading faster than before. Toward the end, I skimmed. I can't even lie. It was beyond horrifying, it is a book I think everyone should read because survivor stories are meant to be heard, but only if you are able to do so without sacrificing something in your own life. Art has a way of affecting us when we least expect it. I cannot stress enough that you should proceed with caution and do not feel guilty if you have to close the book and walk away.



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