Normally I'm not really a fan of true stories or autobiographies for that matter, but when my neighbour handed this book to my mother and I spotted it lying around, well, it was a book...of course I had to read it!
This is the tragic, yet ultimately triumphant, story of Constance Briscoe who as a young girl is completely abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself. She is literally left all by herself.
Physically and verbally abused by her mother, a young Constance tried to have herself taken into care by Social Services. They refused. Nor did they ever follow up her request as to why it was made. At the tender age of thirteen, her mother walked out on her, leaving her to fend for herself. Constance had to make her own food, wash her own clothes, get herself out to school and eventually even get a job to be able to support herself once her mother stopped giving her money.
Despite her constant struggles with life, depression and the beatings she encountered from both her mother and her stepfather, Constance eventually finds some solace with a school teacher, Miss K, who takes her in and looks after her. Unfortunately this does not end well when the teacher suffers an accident and Constance is left alone again. Her time however with Miss K, gave her the motivation and courage to succeed. Dogged determination, an iron will and sheer hard work sees Constance study and pass her A-levels and she eventually manages to get to Newcastle University, despite her mother's attempts to thwart this.
I won't spoil the ending, except to say its a good one, sufficiently so for the author to pen a second book, Beyond Ugly, which is definitely on my reading book.
It is difficult to believe that in the UK such acts can occur. I know I certainly could not have endured what she endured, but then I guess she really knew no different to a degree and I can only imagine what a beautiful person she has become.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: Constance tells the story in an almost matter of fact way. She doesn't come across as begging for sympathy, she just tells it like it was, but her ultimate triumph is all the glory she deserves and more. She may not seem to want our sympathies but she certainly gains our utmost and most deserving admiration.