Disturbing, but interesting book. Opens your eyes to the unbelievable things people do and shows you the things they can do. Constance Briscoe is an amazing woman, especially considering her past.
In the tradition of A Boy Called It and other memoirs of horrific childhoods. Constance Briscoe is an unwanted little girl whose mother treats her more like an animal than a child. The very depressing story of a courageous little girl who ends up being very much a survivor.
Well I almost finished it...I ended up skipping and skimming through most of it towards the end. Poorly written, poor grammar throughout, like a child wrote it instead of an adult (and she's now a judge?). She was more descriptive about dresses, church scenes, cleaning, than she was about the abuse she suffered. Also if you are writing using words and terminology that people in other parts of the world aren't exposed to; a section detailing what they stood for would of been nice. Most of the time I had to guess what she meant. I got bored with this story pretty quickly, it was repetitive, I read the same abuse over and over, her narrative was awful!
As for her being abused as a child, that I don't doubt and my heart aches for a child abused as she was STILL this book could of been much better written.
My final conclusion? A waste of precious reading time!
A most riveting tale. I read it in two days and just could not put it down. Constance, called Clare, Clear and Clearie, is the third child born to a Jamaican husband and wife who emigrated to England. Her father wins money in the Lotto but he divorces his wife and does his own thing. He buys a number of houses, lives in them as he works on them and then rents them out. He does supply some financial support for his children but I think the mother also receives assistance.
From the start, Clare, as she is mostly called throughout the book, is totally unloved by her mother. Her mother calls her names, of which ugly is just one, and literally sees nothing beautiful or redeeming in her daughter, making fun of her looks. How this child lives and survives is the gist of the story. She faces verbal abuse, mental abuse and a great deal of physical abuse. There are also times of sexual molestation by her mother's so-called friends and her mother's boyfriend/second husband. It gets bad enough that she herself goes to the Social Services and tries to get placed with any other family. But of course, a child cannot just do that and she leaves frustrated. Some of the physical abuse leads to medical problems and surgery, which the mother could care less about not even visiting her in hospital.
She takes things into her own hands and attempts suicide. She is not taken to a doctor but is made to wait to see if she lives as her mother worries about the police. Her father being divorced from her mother rarely ever sees the children. She has no one that can help as everything in the house is controlled by her mother, even the food they eat. She stockpiles it in her bedroom under lock and key. She has no friends and all the older girls are expected to do all the housework, cooking, cleaning, washing etc.
Clare is a rather smart girl but the teachers are clueless about her life at home. Her siblings are all treated much better than her, never suffering in any way near as she does at her mother's hands. When Clare starts to work, the mother demands Clare pay her rent, for food, electricity etc. since she her mother calls her a grown woman now simply because she works. Towards the end, her mother simply moves out of the house with all the children, except her oldest three which are all girls, Clare being the youngest of the three. But the two older are allowed to go to the new home as they want, just not Clare. After a short time, Clare is alone in the house mostly and her mother comes calling for money for the rent, electricity, and even for her bed , sheets and pillow!
It is amazing how this young girl managed to make it in the world, no thanks to either of her parents, but especially her mother. She does make something of herself (I do not want to spoil it by telling what she becomes) and goes on to write this book "Ugly." When her mother reads it, she becomes incensed and files a defamation of character suit against her own daughter, Clare. Talk about nerve!
This particular copy includes parts of the Lawsuit and its final outcome. This is not a fairy tale. It moved me in many ways to read of her trials and her triumphs. It is a very sad but moving story.