CRY: The Tears of a Girl from Birkenhead by Trish Ollman

‘Have you ever had a memory from years ago that you hadn’t previously thought about since?’

In her opening to this book, Ms Ollman explains that she left a lot out of her first autobiography ‘A Girl from Birkenhead’ and this book is a ‘no holds barred’ account of her life.  She also notes that those of us who have read the first book will already know some parts of her life story.  So, this book is perhaps more of a revision than a sequel.

Because I chose to read this book immediately after ‘A Girl from Birkenhead’, the areas of overlap were clear to me.  I noticed that Ms Ollman changed the given names of some of her family members in this book, but not consistently.  While writing this book may well have provided the catharsis she was seeking, editing and proofreading would have helped the reader.

This is a difficult book to read, with its mentions of abuse and family difficulties.  Readers who are triggered by mention of sexual abuse (in particular) should proceed with caution.  It is part of Ms Ollman’s story.  

While I was amazed to read that Ms Ollman ‘ taught Julia [her granddaughter] to read at 10 months’,  my own reading difficulties were compounded by many of the same grammatical and word choice issues that confronted me in the first book. I wish Ms Ollman would edit her work (or have it edited) before publication.  Some readers may think this is a minor quibble, especially as context usually makes the meaning clear.

Ms Ollman wrote this book to show herself as a survivor rather than a victim, and I wish her all the best for the future.  It takes courage to confront the past, and to try to move beyond it.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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