Book Review: Let Me Go by Casey Watson

Last week, I found out Amazon.nl now accepts iDEAL, the Dutch payment method via your bank account. Unfortunately, as of yet, it doesn’t accept this method for digital purchases such as Kindle books. I didn’t realize this until I had already bought a book with my husband’s credit card. Honestly, I think it’s stupid that they won’t accept iDEAL for digital purchases, but oh well. Anyway, looking back maybe I should’ve purchased a book that isn’t on Apple Books, but I ended up purchasing Let Me Go, Casey Watson’s latest foster care memoir. This book came out last August, but I wasn’t really interested in reading it up till now. Read on to see what I thought.

Summary

Let Me Go is the powerful new memoir from foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Casey Watson.

Harley, 13, has been sectioned under the mental health act after attempting suicide. She was spotted climbing the railings on a footbridge that crossed a busy motorway and pulled to safety by a member of the public. After six weeks in hospital, social services are looking for a short-term placement so she can be kept safe while family therapy takes place. Harley has a family – a widowed mother and an older sister, Milly, who left home with her long-term boyfriend just over a year ago. There is no prospect of Harley going home just yet though, as her mum, who has learning difficulties and addictions issues, feels she cannot cope. So she arrives with Casey and Mike under a twenty-eight day care order.

As Harley tries to hurl herself out of the moving car on the way home, it quickly becomes clear she is in urgent need of help. Three weeks into the placement, after Harley has made various attempts to abscond, it seems like zero progress is being made. Then all of sudden there is an unexpected breakthrough, and light at the end of a long dark tunnel, but only once Harley is finally able to share the truth about the abuse she suffered at the hands of a very dangerous man.

My Review

This book is a sad look into the errors of the care system. Harley is deemed “care-seeking” (the politically correct term for attention-seeking) by the mental health professionals and is, for this reason, refused mental health care even though she’s clearly at risk. I mean, I honestly don’t feel that anyone in their right mind would make multiple even half-hearted attempts at suicide. In fact, I’m so happy the mental health system here in the Netherlands at least allowed care based on “adjustment disorder” (serious distress due to environmental circumstances) back in my day. It doesn’t anymore, unfortunately.

I was, at first, convinced Harley was at least at risk of developing emotionally unstable (borderline) personality disorder. This can’t be diagnosed in children her age, but it sure seemed she would meet the criteria at some point. BPD is, though, usually a trauma-based condition. So is Harley’s condition, as it turns out.

I had lots of sympathy for Harley, even as Casey and Mike almost lost it with her. This is in part due to the similarities between her experience and mine, but also due to Casey’s caring writing style.

Still, the book dragged a little at first. That’s probably to illustrate how little progress was made at first. Once Harley’s real situation is clear, things after all move more quickly.

At the end, Casey explains some of the issues with the 28-day care order. This was really interesting to read.

Overall, I really loved this book. I should’ve read it as soon as it came out.

Book Details

Title: Let Me Go: Abused and Afraid, She Has Nothing to Live for
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: August 6, 2020

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Book Review: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass

Hi all, how are you? What have you been reading? After I finished Bloom last week, I couldn’t decide what to read for a while. I wasn’t really into fiction anymore, so I picked up a memoir I’d already started on: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I have since discovered a ton of other foster care and abuse survival memoirs I may still want to read.

Summary

The true story of a 6-year-old boy with a dreadful secret.

Oskar’s school teacher raises the alarm. Oskar’s mother is abroad and he has been left in the care of ‘friends’, but has been arriving in school hungry, unkempt, and with bruises on his arms, legs and body. Experienced foster carer Cathy Glass is asked to look after him, but as the weeks pass her concerns deepen. Oskar is far too quiet for a child of six and is clearly scared of something or someone.

And who are those men parked outside his school watching him?

My Review

I struggled a little to get into this book. Partly, the reason was that I’d gotten the idea that this would be Glass’s last foster care memoir. I also judged from the title and table of contents that this might not be a story ending on a positive note. Thankfully, this won’t be Cathy Glass’s last foster care memoir.

The story had many unexpected turns. This is partly because the summary isn’t too telling. There was far more to Oskar’s story than his quiet demeanor and the men parked outside of his school. I ended up loving this.

Oskar stays with Cathy for a long while, so I really got to know him in the story. I also joined him on his journey of progress from his neglectful home through other disclosures to a better life.

Overall, I totally fell in love with Oskar and this story eventually. This was Cathy Glass’s fifth book I read, so I already knew I liked her writing style. I gave this another five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Too Scared to Tell: Abused and Alone, Oskar Has No One. A True Story.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 20, 2020

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Book Review: Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley

A few days ago, some people on an E-mail list were discussing a new collection of short stories by UK foster carer Maggie Hartley. I couldn’t find the collection on Apple Books, but I did stumble upon one of her full-size books, called Who Will Love Me Now?. Most people on the list had already read it, but I hadn’t, so I bought it and started to read it.

Summary

At just ten years old, Kirsty has already suffered a lifetime of heartache and suffering. Neglected by her teenage mother and taken into care, Kirsty thought she had found her forever family when she is fostered by Pat and Mike, who she comes to see as her real mum and dad.

But when Pat has a heart attack and collapses in front of her, Kirsty’s foster family say it’s all her fault. They blame her temper tantrums for putting Pat under stress and they don’t want Kirsty in their lives anymore.

Kirsty is still reeling from this rejection when she comes to live with foster carer Maggie Hartley. She acts out, smashing up Maggie’s home and even threatens to hurt the baby boy Maggie has fostered since birth. Social Services must take Kirsty’s threat seriously and Maggie is forced to choose between eight-month-old Ryan, who she’s grown to love, or angry Kirsty, who will most likely end up in a children’s home if Maggie can no longer care for her. Maggie is in an impossible position, one that calls in to question her decision to become a foster carer in the first place…

My Review

This book totally spoke to me! I could on some deep level relate to Kirsty. After all, I too displayed many behaviors similar to her at around this age. Age ten was also when my parents first considered (albeit not seriously) institutionalizing me at the school for the blind.

I could and to some extent still can relate to Kirsty’s volatile behavior. I have never had to live with anyone other than my biological parents until I was nineteen, but I did often feel rejected by them and showed this in quite dramatic ways.

I immediately, for this reason, rooted for Kirsty and resented Pat and Mike. It was for this reason that I loved to see how the story unfolded.

I read one earlier story by Maggie Hartley, but that was an eShort. I for this reason already knew I liked Maggie’s writing style. I loved it in this book too.

Overall, this was a great read and I finished it within less than a week.

Book Details

Title: Who Will Love Me Now?: Neglected, Unloved and Rejected. A Little Girl Desperate for a Home to Call Her Own
Author: Maggie Hartley
Publisher: Trapeze
Publication Date: July 20, 2017

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We’re In Pain

So we’ve had a mouth ulcer for some days now and as of today, it really hurts. Our staff called the GP, since we can’t go to the dentist now due to our facility’s COVID-19 restrictions and also since they already knew it was a mouth ulcer. The medical assistant couldn’t decide what to do right away so she talked to the doctor herself. Our staff called back some time later. At first, the doctor said to just take paracetamol, but our staff nagged a bit, so now we’ll get some lidocaine gel. This will probably arrive tomorrow.

We somehow misunderstood the doctor’s telling our staff to just give us paracetamol as her thinking we weren’t in significant pain or that we were overreacting. This caused some of us a lot of upset. Over dinner, we were feeling really overwhelmed by the pain and also other clients’ noise. We somehow couldn’t speak until after we’d had a full-on meltdown. Then we got to express our pain and our staff fetched us some paracetamol. That did help some. We’re still in pain, but it’s manageable.

We generally feel very triggered of late. We’re currently reading a foster care memoir by Maggie Hartley called Who Will Love Me Now?. It’s about Kirsty, a ten-year-old being rejected by her first foster carers after they took her in from a neglectful biological mother as a baby. Understandably, Kirsty feels that no-one loves her now and is acting out a lot to prove this point.

I feel a lot of the more disturbed younger parts can relate to this. Thankfully, our parents never abandoned us, but they did threaten to institutionalize us a lot. Age ten was around the time this started.

I also showed a lot of the behaviors Kirsty shows. I mean, I would also often tell my parents that they didn’t love me. Though I didn’t experience the early abandonment Kirsty did, I do most likely suffer with some attachment issues. I can only speculate as to why this might be.

As we’re now in a place where at least so far the staff are saying we can stay, I notice we act out a bit out of a need to “prove” our point. Which is what, really? That no-one wants us, I guess. I’m not 100% sure how to let go of this feeling.

I did journal a lot in my Day One journals over the past few days. It feels good to let out my thoughts. I’m trying to make this a daily habit and hope my blog won’t suffer because of it.

Book Review: Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass

I bought Finding Stevie, Cathy Glass’ most recently published book, already shortly after it first came out in early March. However, I had a ton of books on my reading list, so I didn’t immediately start it. Then it took me a while to finish it, because I got distracted. Last Sunday I finally finished it, but didn’t feel like writing a review yet. I was having a bad cold and didn’t feel like writing much at all. Now my cold is gone, so I can write the review.

Synopsis

Finding Stevie is a dark and poignant true story that highlights the dangers lurking online.

When Stevie’s social worker tells Cathy, an experienced foster carer, that Stevie, 14, is gender fluid she isn’t sure what that term means and looks it up.

Stevie, together with his younger brother and sister, have been brought up by their grandparents as their mother is in prison. But the grandparents can no longer cope with Stevie’s behaviour so they place him in care.

Stevie is exploring his gender identity, and like many young people he spends time online. Cathy warns him about the dangers of talking to strangers online and advises him how to stay safe. When his younger siblings tell their grandmother that they have a secret they can’t tell, Cathy is worried. However, nothing could have prepared her for the truth when Stevie finally breaks down and confesses what he’s done.

My Review

I at first had some trouble getting through the first few chapters. I was curious what Stevie’s secret might be and didn’t find out till almost midway through the book. Then, I worried until nearly the end that the book might not end on a positive note. It seemed to drag on a bit, but eventually, I couldn’t help but love this book.

As the book carried on, I grew sympathetic towards every character. For example, Fred, Stevie’s grandfather, is very blunt and doesn’t accept Stevie’s gender identity at first. He reminded me of my own father, having very strong opinions that he wouldn’t let go of despite the evidence. However, in the end it is clear that Fred too loves his grandson.

Book Details

Title: Finding Stevie: A Dark Secret. A Child in Crisis.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 21, 2019

Book Review: Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass

I bought Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass on Kindle right when it came out early last month, but didn’t finish it till yesterday. Not because it wasn’t a good book, but because I struggled to make time for reading. Today, I’m reviewing this foster care memoir.

Synopsis

The true story of Melody, aged 8, the last of five siblings to be taken from her drug dependent single mother and brought into care.

When Cathy is told about Melody’s terrible childhood, she is sure she’s heard it all before. But it isn’t long before she feels there is more going on than she or the social services are aware of. Although Melody is angry at having to leave her mother, as many children coming into care are, she also worries about her obsessively – far more than is usual. Amanda, Melody’s mother, is also angry and takes it out on Cathy at contact, which again is something Cathy has experienced before. Yet there is a lost and vulnerable look about Amanda, and Cathy starts to see why Melody worries about her and feels she needs looking after.

When Amanda misses contact, it is assumed she has forgotten, but nothing could have been further from the truth…

My Review

The subtitle listed on Amazon for this book is “A Young Girl and a Mother Who No Longer Knows Her”. From this subtitle, I already guessed that Amanda, Melody’s mother, might’ve suffered some form of brain damage. Perhaps she was in an accident and had gone into a persistent vegetative state? The thought of dementia also crossed my mind, but I dismissed this when I found out early in the book that Amanda was only 42.

Despite the fact that I had some inkling of where this book might be headed, the twists and turns did surprise me. It was heartbreaking to read about Amanda’s decline. The book ended on a really bittersweet note.

I loved Cathy Glass’ narrative style. I developed a liking for each of the characters. Amanda, of course, elicited pity with her illness, but I also got to appreciate the attempts she’d made at caring for Melody before she was taken into foster care. Cathy maintains a mostly unbiased yet positive attitude throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, despite its emotive subject matter.

Book Details

Title: Where Has Mummy Gone?: A Young Girl and a Mother Who No Longer Knows Her
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: Harper Element
Publication Date: September 6, 2018