||Sept 21, 2009
Barnes & Noble.com
Childhood Memoir No Easy Road by Patsy Whyte
'No Easy Road' presents Patsy Whyte's tragic story as a child growing up in a children's home in Aberdeen.
"Josie told me she was murdered. When you're a lonely six-year-old, you don't really understand what that means. All you know is you're happy to have a friend to play with."
Patsy Whyte caught glimpses of an invisible world growing up in a children's home in Aberdeen, Scotland. One of a family of ten traveller children, torn apart by the state in the 1950's, Patsy's memoir recalls a childhood scarred by years of mental and emotional abuse, prejudice and hatred.
Patsy left the children's home at the age of 15, angry, naive and ill-prepared, but with a will to survive which would be tested to the limit. She rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful and the poorest in the land, and drifted into a world of violence, prostitution and drugs which almost claimed her life.
No Easy Road is a testament to the survival of the human spirit.
I was only four when I had my first vision. It wasn't a dream. I was wide awake at the time. It happened in the small dingy cloakroom of a children's home in Abedeen. A short while before, the cloakroom had been crammed full of noisy kids putting on coats and jackets prior to leaving for school. Now it was quiet. The long line of hooks to hang up the coats and jackets was empty. There was only one little red coat, my coat, left hanging on its own.
It was still early morning. I listened to the sharp clatter of breakfast plates being gathered up in the dining room ready for washing in the old stone sink in the kitchen next door. Outside, the rain poured down. It was a miserable day but I longed to go out and play in the large playground where the hamster lived.
The hamster lived down a drain but so far Iíd never seen him. The big boys told me he was there and I believed them. Every day, I poked a stick down the drain and scraped the muck at the bottom looking for him. But he never appeared and my brown woolen jumper and tartan trousers were caked in mud and dirt. I must have looked a sight, judging by the expression of horror on Edith's face. She worked at the home and always called me in when it was time for lunch. First, she had to clean me up, which she hated doing.
The morning dragged on and I became more and more restless sitting on the only chair in the cloakroom, swinging my legs backwards and forwards. I jumped off to look out through the long narrow cloakroom windows. Nothing had changed except the raindrops, which were bigger, hitting off the panes of glass even harder than before.
I peered through the sheets of rain and out across the playground to the high red brick wall at the back of the home. Suddenly, the wall crumbled away before my eyes. I was no longer in the gloomy cloakroom with its cracked and flaking paint but on an empty beach, running bare foot on wet sand at the waterís edge.
A cooling, gentle breeze played across my face and a feeling of pure joy rose within me. I heard the soothing sound of waves lapping at my side and the cry of gulls as they soared high into the clear blue sky above me. Nothing can touch me, I thought, as I ran and ran and ran.
Then my eyes focussed for a moment on a small white cottage barely a speck in the distance. In the next instant, it was there, right in front of me, homely and inviting. The front door was open slightly, leading into a warm and cheerful hallway with white wallpaper covered in small red roses.
I knew there was someone waiting inside for me but as I stepped through the doorway everything changed. The red brick wall formed again and I was back in the cloakroom looking out the window at the pouring rain.
The vision, which I still remember clearly to this day, left a profound impression on me. The beach was everything I longed for, the space and freedom I didnít have living with 18 other children at the home. What was it about the wallpaper which so caught my attention? It might have been the sheer living beauty of the roses. And who was waiting for me? I still donít know, but I am certain there really was somebody in the cottage.
I never told anyone about my vision. It was a magical moment meant just for me and it didnít matter whether I understood it or not. I just accepted it, the way a young child does.
Thoughtful & Inspiring - Lisa May Cassidy (United Kingdom)
Thought provoking and insightful autobiography of Patsy Whyte, a survivor of the Aberdeen, Scotland, care system who did not realise how special she was. Patsy was guided by spirits who sought to protect her from the realities of her surroundings.
I received this book on a Thursday and had finished it by the Friday - it's that good. It shows how the human spirit can triumph over adversity.
Order this brilliant book today!
Heartfelt Story - By Maria (The Prairies, Canada)
From the moment I started reading "No Easy Road", I couldn't put it down. I was drawn to the little girl who, at the age of four, was in the cloakroom of the Children's Home in Aberdeen, watching the older children leave for school, her red coat the only one left hanging on the hook. I'm saddened to see that no-one checks on her.
Patsy Whyte tells the story of the first sixteen years of her life. Her parents were alcoholics and she was put "into care" at the tender age of 19 months. As Patsy's story unfolds, you learn about the vindictive house mother who constantly belittles her until Patsy's belief in herself is almost destroyed. Birthdays pass as any other day. Friendships are rare and children come and go. Patsy eventually learns that other family members live at the Children's Home including her brother, sister and cousin. But the contact between them is minimal.
Patsy finally gets to go to school with the other children but when they learn who her mother is, Patsy is tormented and teased, becoming one of those "Whyte children", a homey.
There are also many wonderful moments when Patsy's joy for life shines through. She tells about the people in her life who treat her with kindness - the taxi driver who drops her off at the police station but leaves her 20 pounds to buy some clothes and food, the school teacher who helps her when she can't afford to pay for school supplies, and the social worker who finally listens to her.
You feel sorry for the little girl who is raised without love but you applaud the young woman she becomes. You feel angry at a system that would allow a young girl to be treated in such a horrible manner but you admire some of the people who work within that system and show compassion for a troubled teenager.
This is a book about courage and the ability of the human spirit to survive. It's about Patsy Whyte who tells her story honestly and simply without feeling sorry for herself. Can't wait for a sequel.
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