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Friday, 14 November 2014

Kathleen O'Malley - Childhood Interrupted

book review written & read live on bookshow by Maggie Perkovic 13/11/14
This is a difficult book to read. As a lapsed Catholic I was shocked at the
story but being steeped in the Catholic teaching I almost understood why it happened.
Kathleen is one of two little girls belonging to a devoted mother living in
a tenement in Dublin in the late thirties to forties I should say.
They are poor but very happy with their loving mother who although not
married (little mention of the father) and feel secure and happy in their life.
One day Kathleen then eight years old is brutally raped by a neighbour in
the tenement and her mother reports this to the police. Her first mistake.
After this the children are taken into care, that is to an Orphanage run
by the Sisters of Charity and as they are the lowest of the low, born out
of wedlock, the little girls are treated as such from now on. hair chopped off,
nice clothes taken away, beaten for any reason whatsoever, or no reason,
and all in the name of the Lord.
The saddest result from all this is the gradual estrangement of the girls
from their mother and yet Kathleen's firm belief that as they are nuns
they must be right and she is the sinner. They are taken home for a
while, the case against the neighbour finally goes to court but Kathleen
ends up feeling she is the culprit all along and thinks of herself as a
sinner and "dirty" and dreads people finding out about the rape.
How she finds freedom when she is sixteen and makes  a new and good life
and happy marriage is uplifting reading.
She even visits the nuns in their old age to try and make sense of all that
happened to her and other siblings that later are born.
Well recommended but quite hard to sit through. Maggie Perkovic.

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