Friday, 21 January 2011

Book review: No Easy Road by Patsy Whyte

No Easy RoadI found this book being recommended on a forum and when I read the product description thought it sounded fascinating and moving. This book is the author's debut autobiography (apparently a second book continuing her story is planned) and tells of how she was taken from her traveller family at a young age, and details her experiences in childrens' homes and hostels. Not only does she have to contend with the cruel, detached house mother but also the negative attention her family's reputation brings. She gets herself removed from care at 15 and struggles to live without a family or the state supporting her. At the end she has reached 16 and we find out a litte about what happens to her later in life in the epilogue.

Firstly I ought to say I have tremendous respect for the author, it must have taken a lot of courage to dredge up most of these memories and then share them with the public. I found the early part of the book very moving and cannot imagine how life must have been for young children growing up without love and affection in an institution. I think having a young daughter myself made it really hit home. I was also interested in reading about Patsy's visions of spirits, but felt that after the theme was introduced it was never really developed.

Unfortunately I went into this book expecting something it wasn't largely because of the product description, "She rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful and the poorest in the land, and drifted into a world of violence, prostitution and drugs which almost claimed her life." All these elements played a part in her life but this statement lead me to expect something different, it almost makes it sound like she fell into the underworld when in fact she was a young woman who struggled to keep a job and a roof above her head and was subjected to domestic violence. It doesn't make the story bad, just not what I thought it would be.

Overall it was an eye-opening account of a woman who was failed by the system, but I found the writing style a bit too much "tell" and while I don't doubt some of the incidents must have been very painful to recount, to me the way some incidents were written meant they weren't entirely clear, leaving me a little confused as to what had actually happened. On the kindle every page had big spaces between paragraphs, and the paragraphs themselves were short and staccato leaving a lot of (off) white space. The snappy telling worked at the beginning, because it seemed to fit with how a young child might feel in such distressing circumstances but didn't sit comfortably with me later on. I had expected it to make me quite emotional but it was all quite matter of fact and didn't have quite the impact I thought it might. I'm afraid this isn't a book I would readily recommend (and as this is an autobiography I feel terrible saying that)


brandileigh2003 said...

Thanks for the honest review. As a writer I know how hard it can be to show sometimes, but as a reader I know I want the showing!
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

TC said...

Thanks Brandi, I thought long and hard about the review because I felt bad giving a less than glowing response to an autobiography with this topic but to fudge it would defy the point of the blog.