Book Review – My Dad’s A Policeman by Cathy Glass

This review will contain SPOILERS (for the SPOILER FREE review, check out my Goodreads review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9000173-my-dad-s-a-policeman ).

I love Cathy Glass and her books – while they are completely heart wrenching and often leave me on the verge of tears, they are also a reminder of how selfless and good some people can be, and how even the smallest, most damaged children can thrive when they find someone willing to stand with them instead of against them.

Ryan’s mother is an alcoholic. She spends large portions of each day either drinking or passed out from drinking, thus leaving it up to Ryan to look after his young brother Tommy, the house, and his mother. Because he’s been doing this for as long as he can remember, Ryan simply can’t understand why they must go into care – a running theme through the book is him trying desperately to prove that he can look after the family. He also thinks it’s his fault that the family was split up, because he got picked up by the police numerous times for fighting (he has problems managing his anger, but does get considerably better once in the stability of his foster home).

Ryan runs away from his foster home, and then again from the police officers who come to retrieve him. It’s the start of a lonely time for Ryan, made worse when he tries to persuade Tommy to run away with him, only to be met by refusal from the younger boy because Tommy likes his foster home – he has a playmate and enough to eat. I think it’s glaringly obvious how bad their home life was, that this little boy wants to stay with strangers over his family because at least with the strangers he knows he’ll get fed enough.

After some gentle encouragement from his mother, Ryan returns to his foster home but is still desperately unhappy without his brother. The one perk in this time for him was discovering that his foster dad is a policeman – having never known his father, Ryan used to insist to the other kids on his estate that his dad was a policeman (something that was believed by no one but Ryan).

The book ends on a happy note. Ryan’s mother is given a year by the courts to straighten herself out (although Cathy’s website states that it actually took 3 years for the boys to be returned to her), and a judge rules that Tommy should also move in with Ryan’s foster family so that the boys will be together. That’s about as upbeat as these kinds of stories get, and I’m glad that the boys were given a stable home, and that their mother was given the help she so badly needed.

This is the first of Cathy’s books I’ve read that doesn’t actually feature Cathy (Ryan’s foster mother is called Libby). It’s also the first I’ve read that’s in first person perspective of the person in care (Ryan) rather than the carer. I loved Ryan’s voice in this, the strength and maturity, as well as vulnerability and childish understanding of how the world works (Ryan was under the impression that he and Tommy could get a ferry to France on £3 and that he could work to support them, despite only being, I think, 12), all really shine through.

Ryan made me want to sob, while at the same time find him and hug him tightly. They say children in neglectful or abusive homes learn to be so much more resourceful than other children, and Ryan certainly proves that – while his mother did love him and his brother, for a good part of his life she loved the drink more and so Ryan had to take on the responsibility of caring for them all without letting anyone know just how bad the situation had become.

Another thing I loved was that Ryan’s best friend Wayne also got a happy ending (taken from his abusive father a couple of days after Ryan was taken)! Wayne had a habit of staying at Ryan’s when things got too much at home, but now it was Ryan’s turn go to Wayne for help. The friendship between the boys is lovely – they don’t need to ask what’s happened, only what they can do to help each other.

Overall, I’d give My Dad’s A Policeman 3.8 out of 5 – it was heart wrenching while still being heartwarming, and to hear the story through the eyes of such a young child (instead of their carer) made it all the more poignant. To anyone who likes Cathy’s books (or similar ones) I’d recommend you pick this up. At 100 pages it’s lovely and quick to read, and the change of perspective is a good change of pace.

(Note: on Cathy’s website it states that this book is a “novel based on a true story” as opposed to a “true fostering story”, which would explain why it is not from Cathy’s perspective/have Cathy in it.)

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Book Review: The Child Bride by Cathy Glass

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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.

Amazon Haul…Did I go Overboard?

Hey everyone! Books are my passion and I buy more at every opportunity I get – so it makes sense that my first blog post will be a book haul! There is one DVD in there too, to add some variety. So, from the top down:

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Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – bought on a good friends recommendation, the plot is something about Death having to pretend to be Father Christmas. It’s the 20th Discworld novel but I’ve been assured I don’t have to have read the ones before it.

The Child Bride by Cathy Glass – as a psych student and aspiring clinical psychologist, I have a fascination with these true story, foster-care-for-abused-children type books. This is as the title suggests; a young girl about to be forced into marriage.

City of Ashes and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – the second and third book in The Mortal Instruments series. I have the first (City of Bones) on my kindle and I’m saving them up to read on my (long) train journey home for Christmas. The series is about Shadowhunters who fight demons; it’s received a lot of hype and I’m looking forward to reading them!

Gone by Michael Grant – the first book in another series that has lots of good reviews and I’m only now jumping on the bandwagon. Suddenly, all adults in the world disappear and it’s up to the kids to find out what the hell is going on.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks – a classic which, I’m rather ashamed to say, I haven’t read yet. It’s set in the First World War and, as I love historical novels, I’m sure I’ll love this one too.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – this won the Man Booker Prize last year and is set in 1866 when a group of people team up to discuss and solve some crimes.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg – I love YouTube and Zoella is one of my favourite beauty YouTubers. This book is, I imagine, light hearted, read-in-a-day pure unthinking escapism, which we all love every once in a while.

The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis – a companion book to the aforementioned The Mortal Instruments series. I’ll also be saving this for the train (did I mention it’s a LONG journey?).

And, finally, The Little Prince (bilingual version) by Antoine de St. Exupèry – I borrowed this (a standard English version) off a friend and loved the story. I bought the bilingual version, which means it has the English and the original French side by side. I did French and German GCSEs (2 years ago) and enjoyed the languages although I haven’t really kept them up as much as I should. I’m working on it though, and I thought the best way to brush up on my reading skills is to…well…read a book in French! As well as the actual story (and pictures!), the unabridged version of the story, both English and French, is included in audiobook form in a CD at the back of the book.

Well that’s it for the books! Aside from The Little Prince and Girl Online (and Hogfather and The Shadowhunter’s Codex, both of which were bought separately), the other six books were on sale on UK Amazon.

I also got:

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The Fault in our Stars DVD, with special features (stick around and you’ll soon learn I have a slight obsession with special features). This too was on sale when I bought it.

Phew! That’s a hell of a lot. Quick disclaimer here though: all of these books and the DVD were purchased, by me, using my own money. I don’t usually buy this kind of thing (I don’t usually have the money) but I had a bit extra and thought I’d treat myself. It’s a rare occurrence for me to have been able to buy more than two books, but hopefully I will love them all! Of course, reviews will follow.

Well I guess that’s it for my first post. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe got some inspiration for lovely new book purchases (Amazon is having a Black Friday sale – hurry, go!). Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you again soon!