Story of a Secret Heart
by Cassi Ellen
I have never written a truly negative review because I appreciate the hard work and time authors put into their writing and because I think it is really important to be kind. In addition, I only read books I think will be good and of interest to me. In the case of Story of a Secret Heart by Cassi Ellen, I was offered a free download and the summary sounded interesting: how a young woman survives heartbreak in a country far from home.
This memoir is supposed to be based on a true story. I soon found myself wondering how much of it is true–all but the names of the people in the book, 50%, 1%? I began to hope, desperately almost, that most of it is fiction. Cassi is supposedly a “small town girl” from the U.K. and on multiple occasions uses that mind set as the reason she wanders (usually jumps) into dangerous behaviors and relationships. She went to University and works (when she hasn’t called in sick) in a hospital. How can someone with that background drink day and night as a response to happiness, sadness, boredom, lack of confidence? How can she engage in promiscuous sex with multiple partners? How can she have relationships with known drug dealers who surround themselves with prostitutes?
There are other head-scratching conflicts in Story of a Secret Heart. One of Cassi’s boyfriends, Ben, is obsessively jealous and displays an outrageous temper if anyone flirts with her. Then one evening he encourages her to have sex with an unknown–and she does! On another occasion he texts a friend of his who thinks she is lovely and sets up a date for them, telling the man he has to give her $1000 to get herself beautiful for the date! This from a man who is jealous of flirting?
Three-fourths of the way through this book, I started doing a little researching on Cassi Ellen and this story. The only thing I came up with online is a great web of promotional posts giving the book away on varying sites. No personal information on the author. Reviews on Amazon were very good and just a little less so on Goodreads. I don’t know if I am breaking a blogger/reviewer code by giving a bad review, but I am floored at the positive reviews. I did understand the two reviewers who said it was like watching a train or car wreck: you knew it was going to happen, but you could’t make yourself look away. As I read, I kept telling Drama Queen Cassi in my head to STOP what she is doing–the drinking until she passes out, waking up in strange beds, going on drug deliveries–and start making good choices. She claims to have gained, through this process, self-confidence in the presence of the “beautiful people,” but the “respect” she gets is not because of anything she does, what she looks like or who she is. It is because she is with a very rich drug dealer and his associates living a dangerous lifestyle.
I would never recommend this book to anyone for any reason, and I’m sorry I spent time reading it. I hope it is mostly fiction and I suspect it is. I assume Cassi Ellen is a pseudonym, and that is certainly the author’s right.
Disregarding numerous typographical errors, I do have two positive things to say about the book. One is that the quotations at the end of each chapter are well chosen to accompany the text. The other relates to one possible use of this book. If you are going through a rough time, feeling mistreated and lonely, you can look at Cassi and see a vivid picture of a variety of inappropriate responses to the hard times in life and choose a better path.