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I remember the case of Eunice Spry being on the news a few years back but struggled to keep up to date with it, so when I saw this book and realised it was her foster children's story, I thought I may aswell pick it up and see what actually happened. I picked this book up for £3 in my local Tesco Metro, which is quite a bargain for a new book nowdays!
The book is written by Alloma Gilbert, who was fostered by Eunice Spry at a young age and lived with her until she was 17. Before her parents allowed her to live with Spry, Alloma visited the house several times with her birth mother. During these visits, Alloma was treated like a princess and enjoyed being there.
However, after she had moved in, it soon became obvious to her that Eunice had been putting on a show for her mother. Alloma soon became the victim of Spry's sadistic abuse, along with the other children who lived in the house.
The book gives an account of the years that Alloma lived with Spry and the abuse that she suffered. Alloma also describes some of the abuse that the other children suffered, but tends to stick to her own experiences.
To describe the book in much more detail with give most of the story away.
I have read a few books of the same genre, but never any that happened in the Uk and so close to home. As I remember this case being on the news, I was glad to actually understand the facts of what I had been seeing small clips of and really felt for the author when reading.
I have just done a little research and found that Enuice Spry was sentenced to 14 years in prison, in 2007, for the abuse that she subjected these children to. I suppose it is comforting to know that she received the punishment that she deserved.
I came across this book a few months ago in the library and was caught by the striking title. I've been reading a lot of similar autobiographical books lately telling heart-rendering life stories and most have been very insightful, given me something to reflect on and have really stirred my emotions. This one however, takes a slightly different tone of which I wasn't so keen.
'Deliver Me From Evil' was published in March 2008, so is still quite fresh to the shelves. The sub title, 'A sadistic foster mother, a childhood torn apart', is very poignant also and gives an insight into what the book's about. This is a real-life account written by Alloma Gilbert, who was 22 I believe at the time of writing, detailing the abuse she suffered at the hands of her foster mother, Eunice Spry.
The events that unfold over the 267 pages take place in the UK, namely the Bristol & Cheltenham areas. Being closer to home, rather than many of the books I read that are from the States, opens your eyes to what's going on on your own doorstep. Alloma gives an honest account of her youth from when she was first at home with her parents. Living with Eunice was not a clear-cut event, as it seemed to happen over a prolonged period of time. When you think of adoptions, you think of strict rules and regulations that are supposed to protect everyone involved, especially the child. But this wasn't a straightforward adoption, in fact, it was hardly a legal adoption in any sense.
Alloma's time with her foster mother was nightmarish, with regular verbal, physical and mental abuse. The incidents she tells us about occurred for 11 years, which is hard to imagine as you would have thought that somebody, anybody, would have intervened. Since the age of 6, Alloma was subjected to Eunice's cruelty, which she apparently excused on religious grounds. By saying that Alloma was evil and had bad blood, Eunice's violence and abuse was used to literally beat the badness out of her. We get some insights as to the foster mother's reasons behind such behaviour, like a complex mix between money, control, religion and perverse satisfaction from abusive power.
I wont go into any detail about the abuse we're told about from the book, but it's shocking to say the least. I guess you could say this is a book about survival, as Alloma moves out at the age of 17. Unsurprisingly, she was unprepared and vulnerable in the world, though she had learnt how to survive and keep going despite the struggles as she had done most of her life when living with her foster mother.
It's good to know that the story is out in the open rather than being locked away, ignored or pushed under a rug. Such horrific tales shouldn't be possible, but they are all too frequently. It's good to know that Eunice was sentenced for 14 years in 2007, so at least some justice was done and that no other children will suffer at her hands.
My overall praise for this book is somewhat lessened by the author's writing style. I don't take away any of the guts it took to write it. I just think it had a tone which was bordering on, dare I say it, pitying. I feel horrible for saying, but it was the repetition of certain words and phrases that seemed to want to push the reader into emphasising, rather than just letting it happen. Perhaps this is partly to do with her age or the publishers, I'm not sure. Therefore, I would recommend it to give you an insight into the horrors that go on behind closed doors and the seeming failure of care protection agencies, though it's one I'd suggest you get from a library rather than to buy it. (RRP £6.99, Amazon £4.19).