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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Bestselling memoirist Long (Ma, I've Got Meself Locked Up in the Mad House) takes readers to 1950s Dublin, where it is nothing short of a miracle that she survived her childhood. Long chronicles her life from ages three to 11, letting the child she once was "tell the story in her own voice:" a dynamic, colorful Irish dialect. Born to a destitute teenage mother, Long endures shocking privation and abuse, particularly at the hands of her mother's lascivious long-term boyfriend, who does indeed sell her for a few cigarettes. Trapped by her circumstances, Long must care for a growing brood of siblings, and though barely educated she finds ingenious ways to provide for her family. A penny candy, a broken roller-skate, a meal from a stranger: small treasures and kindnesses, though rare, give Long the strength she needs to hope for a better future. Her tale can be repetitive, but the repetition aptly mirrors the punishing cycle of poverty. Not for the faint of heart, Long's story is a gritty, grueling, and heartbreaking testament to one girl's unbreakable spirit.
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