This is the second of a two-book memoir. Beginning where the previous book ended, with fourteen year old Judith standing at a railway station in Queensland with all her belongings in a cardboard port (a cheap suitcase), it follows her life as she is flung from one disastrous situation into another. The first book--No One’s Child—is the best memoir I’ve ever read. You can find my review HERE. I’d say it’s essential to tackle that (you won’t regret it) to gain an understanding of Judith’s remarkable upbringing and the lack of adult support she received, which has a huge bearing on how her life turned out.
There’s not much in the way of publicity for this author. She wrote her life story in two books: No One’s Child and The Girl With The Cardboard Port. Her bio on Amazon offers this: “Judith L. McNeil lives in Queensland, Australia. She is now retired after decades spent working as a caregiver for the aged, but volunteering in the community is still very much a part of her life. Her interests other than writing are breeding Shitzus, landscape painting, and reading.”
It’s difficult to write a review of this memoir without including spoilers—after all it’s a sequential look at one life. Once again, it’s Judith’s willingness to share her story truthfully and in bare-boned detail that makes this such a compelling read. Prepare yourself for a brutally honest peek into a world you’ll find hard to believe exists. I can only admire her fortitude and reflect on what a remarkable woman she is to have survived with her spirit intact.
I said in my review of the first book that I came away from reading No One’s Child buoyed by her humanity and humbled that she took the time to share her life with me. That was not the case with this story. I felt anger at the way her life had been effectively stolen from her until she reached her thirties. I regret that she has been left with permanent reminders of what she has lost. Judith McNeil is clearly a woman of substance who could have achieved great things had she been given the opportunity and support from responsible adults. Maybe that’s the moral that her life story leaves behind.
No typos to mention. Australian dialect, but not an issue for comprehension.
Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Rating: ***** Five stars