Wednesday 28 March 2007

Don't Tell Mummy by Toni Maguire

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by Harper Element - An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

Don't tell Mummy is the true story of Toni Maguire's tragic and brutal childhood. A friend (thanks Jean-Luc!) brought this to one my attention and I just knew from the raw emotion it wrought in him, that I had to read it too. I am so glad I did.

In this book we are shown her early beginnings in life, such happiness and innocence which is all too quickly taken away when her father leaves the army and comes home for good. What happens next is beyond imagination. While the outside world sees an almost picture perfect family, behind closed doors there are so many dark secrets. Over many years, Antoinette's defenses are broken down, her faith and trust in all around her is shattered and all she wants is her mother's love and protection. It really isn't much to ask for.

I loved the way the author could take a simple thing and make it so bright and breezy, and later come back to that and weave such a darkness across it. One such instance that will stick with me for a long time, was a visit to an old school-friend of her grandmothers who made homemade sweets:

Engrossed I would watch. my cheeks bulging with some of her samples, as I rolled the one she had told me I could 'test' around my tongue. When the last drop of the sugary syrup had slid down my throat I would play the same game we played every time.
'Mrs Trivett, what are little girls made of?'
I never grew tired of her reply.
'Why Antoinette, how many times do I have to tell you? Sugar and spice of course, and all things nice!'
I would giggle happily and she would reward me with another sweet.
Then later, she writes:
I knew then that although they liked the sweets, they were never going to like me. After that day they liked me less for they could sense how desperately how I wanted their approval and despised me for it.

I remembered then the visits to Mrs Trivett's house and the question I would always put to her: 'What are little girls made of?' I remembered her reply, and thought now that I must be made of a different substance.
This book is one that you won't want to put down but at times I had to. As a survivor I found parts hard to deal with, common ground making me a little uneasy. Other times, I had to put the book down purely because the emotion and anger that I felt when reading this was overwhelming. New levels of disturbing attitudes and behaviour are around every corner and this book left me at the end, totally in amazement and in awe of this author for not only being able to survive such an experience but for being able to put it here, in a book and share her story with world.

A great read and a brilliant reminder that not everything in life is as it seems.

The sequel to this book, picking up where this left off is called When Daddy Comes Home and should be available around August 2007. Personally I can't wait.


Redhot_Brat said...

After reading your reveiw here I can't help but wonder.... Have you ever read Dave Pelzer's series on his Childhood?
The series starts with " A Child Called IT" and there are 3 others that follow and chronicle his life from early childhood through adulthood.
I have books one and two if your interested. Fair Warning ... Also coming from a survivor...this series will be equally hard to read and at times will make you nauseous at the sheer horror of the things he lived through.
Just let me know & they will be enroute.
Deb the Brat ;)

Charlene Martel said...

I haven't read those. I had seen them around lots but didn't know what the content was. I just knew they were an autobiography/memoir.

Now I will definitely have to read them.

As for Don't Tell Mummy by Toni Maguire. book-man-8 on bookcrossing is hosting a bookray to get this brilliant book some well deserved publicity so you might want to add yourself to that.

It won't stop you wanting a copy of your own though. This book just cries out to be read over and over.

Anonymous said...

I don't know nothing about Toni Magire, but the title of the book encouraged me to read it, I have to say that it's wonderful, it is a book with which you spend a good time, although I have to admit that it's very hard but reading it , you discovered how strong Antoniette was,

Anonymous said...

After reading your reveiw here I can't help but wonder.... Have you ever read Dave Pelzer's series on his Childhood?
The series starts with " A Child Called IT" and there are 3 others that follow and chronicle his life from early childhood through adulthood.

Dave Pelzer was actually found out to be lying. I read his books too and they were great. But Toni Maguire's book was great. If you don't believe me then think about this:

In the one of the books, he mentions not being able to remember what his mother looked like in his earlier years, yet he remembers a lot else about his childhood.

He also protects his mother's details along with his brothers so no one knows who they are.

Beleive him if you want but one of his work colleagues describes him as different than the type of boy he claimed to be in the book. He was sensitive in the book but in real life he was rather grumpy. I mean, I wanted to puke after hearing the horrors of the book, but I beleive it was a fake.

Qihua said...

the book is really interesting but it is quite disgusting sometimes....

Charlene Martel said...

I find that most (if not all) books that deal with the subject of childhood abuse are hard to stomach in places. I have quite the collection now but am always looking for new suggestions.

nicola roche said...

after reading these books i get very sad but i enjoy the books and can never leave them down i too have read david pelzer but if you are looking for other bookd like these then get martha longs books there is five starting with ma he sold me a few cigeretes ,and ma im getting myself a new mammy ,ma its a cold old night and i need a bed there is alos two more they are brilliant !!!! but well done toni maguire loved the book x

YoungOperaSinger said...

I'm 14, and imagining this treatment in my head makes me physically sick, and I haven't yet finished it but I'm pretty close to giving it up altogether, because of how emotional it is. I just don't know how Toni handled it all, and to think it's a true story...
I think that she's a very talented writer, and she could write novels...I don't know if she does, but if so, I want to read them!!

Anonymous said...

This book was a heartbreak. I believe this happened, I know it still happens today. Even though public attitudes about abuse today have changed, there are families today who still believe in the "happy family" game known as denial. The abuse victim still suffers, from family members and people outside the family as people do talk. Even though Toni is a successful author and uses her success to help others, I know she still suffers. I hope God gives her the love and salve for her heart and soul that have been so badly damaged.