sorry been away but its been a crazy 2 weeks for reason i wont talk about here.

This really is a misery memoir; Nigel Slater lived a life of Riley compared to Andrea Ashworth. It’s a tough read — you feel angry with her mother and successive stepfathers for being such inadequate and dangerous parents, but at the same time you have to feel sorry for them. Andrea’s mother was clearly incapable of bringing up children on her own, having not grown up emotionally herself. But she was also incapable of choosing the right person to help her, and in the deprived milieu in which she lived in 1970s Manchester, there was little to no help available to her. Again and again she returned to her abusive partners, ignoring the advice of friends and family and putting herself and her children in danger, because she couldn’t bear the thought of being alone.

Andrea’s tough will to survive and at the same time protect her family and somehow hold it together reminded me of the young Maya Angelou. In the last few chapters, you are on tenterhooks, and it’s a relief when Andrea finally sails off into her future. She will survive, but will her mother?

During her school days, part of Andrea’s survival technique was writing poetry and this book is rich with allusion, metaphor, and creative use of words, which sets it above many other memoirs of this sort, while evoking the clammy, claustrophobic atmosphere of the various slums the family lived in while 1980s prosperity happened to other people.

 

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