4 out of 5 stars
If you were to hear Kerry Hudson speak now, you would hear her soft Scottish lilt. She would be telling you about her prize-winning books that have enabled her to travel all over the world. She is in a strong relationship and has plenty of opportunities and has access to many wonderful things.
It could have been so different.
Her score for the childhood trauma on the Adverse Childhood Experiences was eight out of ten. Her mother and step-father had a tumultuous relationship. She moved constantly as a child with her single mother between sordid flats and crumby B&Bs supported by social services. She attended fourteen different schools by the time she was sixteen. It was a tough upbringing, no money for the basics let alone luxuries and that poverty was grinding and dehumanising. She almost ended up with a drinking problem, like her mother had and dropped out of school. Was fortunate that a teacher saw her potential and as she put it saved her life.
She is proud to be working class. She was never proud of her poor background.
Hudson was one of the lucky ones, she managed to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty, but the spectre of the past continues to haunt her. This book is a brutally honest account of her upbringing and the cathartic effect on revisiting those demons from her past lives. But more than that this is a process of revisiting those place that she grew up, reconnecting with some of the people that she knew in from that past.
It is also a health check on the state of our country too. Pervasive poverty spares no one and austerity for the past decade has made the people who were in just about managing, now much worse off. She was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with her opportunities, but the majority will not have this. It should have been a depressing book, but Hudson writes with deft authority and in amongst the gloom shows that it is possible to be happy. I think this should be required reading for all tory ministers, but as they are almost all heartless, so I doubt that they will be moved by this at all.