autobiography

‘Lowborn’ by Kerry Hudson #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Lowborn

Hive   Waterstones  Amazon.co.uk

I bought this book because I read some of Kerry Hudson’s articles in The Pool and in The Guardian. She’s a fabulous writer, and I recognised in her writing some aspects of my own childhood (that could be me and my sisters on the cover!).

Reading some of the more negative reviews of this book actually shines a light on how those who have no idea of what it’s like to be poor continuously misrepresent and misunderstand poverty. There are plenty of reviews putting the blame resoundingly on Ms Hudson’s mother and her mental health issues. These reviewers completely miss the point that mental health issues are exacerbated by poverty. How much harder is it to cope with anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. when your life is so enclosed? When you are frustrated at every turn? When there is no help because of cuts? And inevitably there is the review that cites the poor families with their plasma screen TVs and consoles – because god forbid poor people should have any pleasure in life at all.

There’s a whole lot more I could say about poverty and childhood and inequality, but this is supposed to be a book review.

While difficult to read at times, this book has an enormous amount of warmth. While parts of Ms. Hudson’s life were harrowing, there are moments of joy too, and it’s so interesting to read about her feelings as she confronts her past and revisits those places where she grew up and that helped form her.

These stories need to be told because society wishes to look in the other direction, because we do not want to think of the children a few streets away who have eaten rubbish food and not nearly enough of it, in a house where the heat isn’t on and they don’t own a single book, in threadbare clothes that are too small for them, being cared for by a parent who desperately requires help themselves.

Perhaps it’s easier, though, because if we did look at what was really happening, surely we wouldn’t be able to live with that?

Reading this though, and some of the reviews, and the comments on Twitter whenever anyone mentions poverty or foodbanks or people on benefits, I wonder if it’s less that people don’t want to acknowledge the reality of society in 2019, or that they really just don’t care. Books like this are so important, because people need to know – you can’t keep turning away from children like Kerry.

5 stars

 

 

#BookReview ‘Things I’ve Been Silent About’ by Azar Nafisi

nafisi

This memoir by Iranian academic and writer Azar Nafisi combines insights into the political and social upheaval of Iran with stories from the writer’s childhood, teenage years and early married life, detailing her troubled relationship with her mother in particular.

It is a beautifully written book, accessible and interesting. Like most people, my view of Iran is influenced by negative news stories. This book brings to life the real people behind those news reports. Life in Iran has changed so much, especially for its women, and reading about these changes, through the eyes of rebellious, strong-willed and intelligent Azar, both as a child and a woman, is eye-opening, and both heart-warming and heart-breaking.

The writer’s difficult relationship with her mother is one that many women, in particular, will identify with. Nafisi struggles with her mixed emotions – she clearly loves her mother, but she also sees her faults, whilst acknowledging the ways her mother does show her feelings. When her mother accompanies her to Lancaster to settle her in before she starts school, the care and love her mother shows are touchingly drawn. Nafisi portrays her feelings honestly and retains this honesty when detailing her close, loving relationship with her father; she doesn’t shy away from revealing his faults – the affairs he had for example.

This is a touching and fascinating book – skilfully written and intelligent.

gold star

Find a copy here