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Poor: Grit, courage, and the life-changing value of self-belief

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This is a harrowing tale of Katriona’s life as she was brought up by drug-addict parents surrounded by poverty. We see this in her efforts to place her experience within her parents’ experiences and her parents’ experiences within their histories. O’Sullivan expertly gives us an insight into the genuine harm of her parents’ addictions but by no means defines them by it. So, for several months she squatted in an abandoned flat, which became a teenage hangout for drinking and drugs, until social services found out and she was moved to a mother-and-baby hostel, then later to a council flat.

There is a moment in the book where a former teacher tracks O’Sullivan down to a flat she was living in after a period of homelessness and becoming a teenage mother; when I say I cried, I mean I bawled my eyes out. She stood at the top of the lecture hall in Trinity College Dublin in a beige cardigan down to her knees, blue denim jeans and a pair of runners. I cried when I read about her older brother coming home from work to find her and her siblings, hungry, with not a parent to be seen. At it’s core this is a cautionary tale about the effects of austerity, the class system in the UK and the horrifying generational impact of addiction. Quotes like "Poor cuts through lots of jargon, words like disadvantaged, underprivileged, deprived or under class.We’re not just talking poverty in a financial sense, Katriona – like many other children, were impoverished in many ways – of care, security, nutrition, love, education, healthcare, hope and expectations. With unflinching honesty and humour, Katriona tells us how she managed to break free from the cycle of poverty that was her legacy. How she found mentors whose encouragement revitalised those seeds in adulthood, leading her to become an award-winning academic whose work challenges barriers to education. This is free download Poor: Grit, courage, and the life-changing value of self-belief by Katriona O’Sullivan complete book soft copy.

It's the story of neglect, love, rape, sexual abuse, drug abuse, domestic abuse, determination, self doubt, overcoming the worst of childhoods and developing resilience. She is furious at the rhetoric around poverty – during the past decade especially – that if someone is poor, it is their own moral failing, and if only they worked harder, they could drag themselves out of it. The fortitude she had to get through what she did amazed me, and to get to where she is today even more so.Her book is a stirring argument for the importance of looking out for our kids, of giving them hope, practical support and meaningful opportunities. There will always be a small part of me that just wants to be loved by my parents,” she says, and she apologises for the tears that spring to her eyes. O’Sullivan has dedicated her life’s work to changing society for other women like her, but she has rightly dedicated this memoir to herself. A kindly teacher, Mrs Arkinson, took an interest in Katriona from a very young age and recognised the fact that Katriona came from a home where she was utterly neglected. This book was recommended to me by my line manager as the book for anyone who works in support or services.

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