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Nobody Came - Robbie Garner

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Genre: Biography / Author: Robbie Gardner / ISBN: 0007287968 / Publication Date: 2009 / Publisher: Harper Element

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      24.01.2012 20:13
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      Only read if you're really into this sort of thing!

      ---Why I bought this book---
      I think this was a book I bought from the charity booklist at my old workplace - books for 25p. I will now be adding it to my own charity's booklist where I'll sell it for 50p - we're all winners!

      I went through a phase a few years back when I read lots of 'sob story' autobiographies. I realise it's possibly a bit offensive referring to people's personal tragedies in this way. However, I feel that after Dave Pelzer's book "A child called It" (which I would highly recommend) everyone seemed to jump on the bandwagon...and I was taken in with these compelling memoirs which served to make me feel better about my own life (rest assured though I will be writing my own autobiography...but it will be a black comedy).

      ---The Story---
      On the front of the book under the title "Nobody Came" it says "The appalling true story of brothers cruelly abused in a Jersey care home". As it came on the news in 2007 that over 100 adults who had been children at Haut de la Garenne had made allegations of abuse (this was particularly topical for me since I visited Jersey in 2008), Robbie Garner was taken back to his childhood experiences.

      Robbie Garner didn't have a happy childhood (to say the least) however his impoverished home life with his brothers, sister and alcoholic mother (Gloria) was better than what was to come (and there were some happy memories).

      Following his father's attempted suicide, at the age of 5 Robbie and his younger brother Davie (aged three) and baby sister (who they were instantly separated from) went to the Sacre Coeur orphanage, while their older brother John (whom Robbie doted on) went to the Haut de la Garenne children's home...where Robbie and Davie wouldn't arrive for many years.

      Although it was Haut de la Garenne that made the news, if anything the abuse and torture which went on in Sacre Coeur at the hands of the nuns was far worse. Despite the hardships though, there are brief happy moments, and acts of kindness - but these are few and far between.

      The story is undoubtedly shocking, even to someone who has read as many of this type of books as I have. The suicide of a very young child is something which particularly stuck with me after reading the book. This book did still pull at my heart strings, and the separation of Robbie from his brother John was particularly distressing.

      On the back of the book it says "Good meals, playing pool, seeing a film, a comfortable bed and new clothes...This is the place to be, I thought as I drifted off to sleep". However, Robbie's move to Haut de la Garenne brought with it more sinister ritualistic and sexual abuse. The reader is relieved on behalf of Robbie for not being one of the "pretty boys" who suffered even more abuse than he did....and disappearance of boys/possibly murders (although there is no proof of this), but shocked (although not surprised) that this sort of thing has gone on.

      Whether or not this book has a happy ending would really depend upon your definition of a happy ending. Clearly Robbie Garner survived to tell his tale, but if you want to find out more you'll have to read the book.


      ---The book---
      The book was actually written by Toni Maguire rather than Robbie himself. Maguire has written her own tragic life story and now helps other abuse victims to tell their stories. I'm sure this is done with the best intentions, but somehow this makes me feel slightly uneasy. This is non uncommon though with this genre of book.

      I don't think I'd recommend "Nobody Came" (unless you're really into this sort of book, in which case you'll probably have read it already) - it's not happy reading and probably won't give you anything positive from it, aside from gratitude that you haven't been through what the terrible things that Robbie Garner went through (and you could get this from other books). I realise I might come across as sounding a bit harsh. To clarify I am not in any way shape or form belittling the horrific experiences that some children have had...these are just my views on the book, and to be honest 3 out of 5 stars is generous.


      ---Other details---
      "Nobody Came" was written in 2008, and is 313 pages long. The cover picture is similar to other books of this sort - a photo of small children looking sad. The paperback can be bought new on Amazon for £5.29 or on Kindle for £4.99. Or you can purchase it off myself for 50p!

      ---Final Thoughts---
      In 2008 having read another tragic lifestory I said in reference to that book that it was "written in the hope that it will help other people (as they all do). But, published in 2007 there are (were) already hundreds/thousands of these books already out there, so it isn't really adding anything new. Mind you, if people (like me) are going to read them, then more fool us!"

      In March 2009 I reviewed another similar book and declared "I think that I have to face facts though, that I have some sort of scary addiction to them - a bit like tinned soups - they are awful but I keep coming back for more!"

      Now we're in 2012.....That is all!

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