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Child C: Surviving a Foster Mother's Reign of Terror - Christopher Spry

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Genre: Biography / Author: Christopher Spry / Paperback / 320 Pages / Book is published 2008-08-04 by Pocket Books

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      14.06.2010 14:13
      Very helpful



      Not one of the better misery memoirs clogging up the shelves.

      There are a shameful amount of misery memoirs doing the rounds. Not least because these events should not be happening in the first place. No longer confined to the occasional biography, these books have now formulated an entire genre that can be found in every supermarket, pit stop and book store. It highlights what is wrong with our society, with social services often finding themselves powerless or incompetent in handling child abuse cases until its too late, and the rest of society indulging the human baiting of shows like Jeremy Kyle or Trisha Goddard for sport rather than feeling appalled that this type of thing is allowed on television. There is often little hope in these books other than the fact that the person is alive enough to tell the story, but more often than not, it is the equivalent to reading a show-and-tell story written by an eleven year old.

      Child C is the story of a woman named Eunice who, according to the narrator Christopher Spry (one of the abused children), practically ripped him and his brother from the arms of their parents. Supposedly, the author's mother became ill and Eunice stepped in to take care of them. For the first part of the book, Christopher's parents are largely absent, without anything remotely approaching an acceptable explanation. For this part of his life, Christopher and his foster brothers and sister's are treated to a life not even befitting of an animal. Incidentally, the house is like farmyard, animal's running amok and taking priority over the ill-treated children. The children are played off against each other by evil Eunice, food is withheld as a matter of course, and daily physical and psychological beatings are doled out.

      In all honesty, like many of these books, the plot is hammered to the point of manipulation. The story is repetitive, so much so, that we are treated to an almost vulgar amount of repetition in nearly every chapter. Not to play down the absolute horror of what this young man was put through, but its absurd that the publishing company would think that we would want to read a book that is as badly written as this. Its patently obvious from the outset that this is a young man who border's on illiteracy, confirmed by the reveal that he was home schooled to a basic level, and could barely read or count by the time he was 16. 22 at the time of writing, it's admirable that he learned to read and write enough to put pen to paper, but the story requires a writing skill with more depth, something that he understandably lacks.

      The story itself is a gruesome one, but one that has become too common since the 70's, hence the wealth of writing material available on the subject. You have to wonder though what the hell was going on. This woman was allowed to foster these kids, and nobody seemed to be monitoring them, or her. The house was constantly filthy, with even the back garden looking like a zoo, and not a social worker noticed. These children were taken to doctors who unwittingly diagnosed them with ADHA. All five children? Christopher's parents were apparently good parents, and the only reason for their withdrawal from being caregivers was his mother's illness, and yet for years they were absent from his life with only the apparent interference of Eunice.

      Essentially, none of this really makes any sense. Either all involved with these childrenwere incredibly negligent, or this is a very one sided story. You don't get a feel for who anybody is. I would not expect a story told from a victim's point of view to paint the villain is a well rounded human being, but I would like to have got more of a feel for who Eunice was. For all the presence she has in the story, she might as well be that dark invisible spectre that haunts our closet when we are children. Now, don't think for a second that I don't sympathise with Christopher's plight. No kid should have to go through that. Its not the speaking out I have an issue with, it's the fact that these events have to be novelised by amateur writers and only cover the same ground that we've read time and again.

      Now, I know you're wondering why I even read this book when its very obvious I'm not a fan of the genre. Very occasionally, these books can be well enough written to provide you with an insight into the psychological torture inflicted on the victim's. Unfortunately, this is not one of those occasions, and the result is a repetitive watered down story of child abuse that really condenses the plight of the victim to almost insulting proportions.


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