Cathy Glass is a pseudonym for a foster carer specialising in helping severely abused or traumatised children. She’s written several novels about some of her cases, and The Child Bride is a pretty recent one. As a budding psychologist, I devour books like this one – true stories about counselling/foster carers/social workers etc. so I was very excited about picking this up.
The Child Bride is about a 14 year old Asian girl, Zeena, who asks to be taken into care. She specifically requests white carers and social workers, because she’s terrified her family will track her down. As the book progresses and we find out more about her horrific past and suffering, it becomes clearer and clearer why she left and why she spends her days terrified of being found.
From the title, and the fact the Zeena is described as “A young Asian girl” on the cover, I guessed that Zeena’s story would involve forced marriage. I didn’t guess the shocking acts that preceded or followed the marriage. There were a couple of points in this book where I had to pause and just remind myself exactly how lucky and safe I am in my white, western world. Of course, white women in western countries still face threats – anyone can be the victim of violent crime at any time – but I am grateful that I will NEVER face the circumstances that poor Zeena has had to endure.
Despite everything, Zeena has remarkable spirit and a determination to succeed in life which is truly admiring to read. She has managed to turn her life around and, while (understandably) not completely healed, she is getting there. I’m glad that her story has a somewhat happy ending.
Like other books of this type, The Child Bride is written in a very matter-of-fact way. It’s first person perspective (of Cathy), and throughout we have sentences that foreshadow things to come. There’s also a lot of “little did I realise” or “it wasn’t for some time that I’d know” which helps give the feel that we learn everything as Cathy learns it. It really helped me to connect with the book, and with Zeena and her story.
While I don’t want to be inappropriate by saying I enjoyed this book, I was fascinated throughout. Zeena’s story gripped me tight and wouldn’t let go, and I have the feeling that I’ll be thinking about her for a long time. Books like this help me stay determined and true to my dreams that one day I’ll be able to help people like Zeena, people with heartbreaking pasts or tragic circumstances, to see a brighter future. And THAT’S why I enjoyed The Child Bride. It gives hope that, no matter how bad things seem, there might just be a brighter tomorrow.