The Girl Nobody Wants by Lilly O’Brien is supposed to be a true story of child abuse in Ireland. I say supposed because as horrific as the subject matter is I can’t help finding huge inconsistencies in the story that have led me to question how much of this story is true. The book begins on Lilly’s 40th birthday and we enter into her life as she is now. Messed up is an understatement – she is taking dozens of pills every day just to function and block out her memories and her poor children are almost neglected as she cannot cope with looking after both them and herself. Her therapist has asked her to write down her recollections as her childhood to try and help her to gain some closure and this book is the result.
Child Abuse in Ireland
We have heard a lot about Ireland’s past with child abuse, particularly in religious homes and schools, and it is something that is still very much talked about to this day. It is a subject that I do think should be highlighted and I hoped that by reading The Girl Nobody Wants by Lilly O’Brien that I would gain a deeper insight into just what went on in the not so distant past. Unfortunately I don’t think that this book does anything for the cause. Lilly seems to have been abused by everyone in her life – and I mean everyone. Her mum, her step dad, her sister’s boyfriend, her brothers, her step brothers, the nuns at the convent, the people that she goes on holiday with, a priest and some random man who keeps turning up at the convent whilst she is a young girl there. Now I hate to accuse any writer of a biography of not being honest but I am really struggling to see how her tale is true. Lilly mentions that it is backed up with official reports but then they are not included. As awful as this sounds, I am sceptical about what is fact and what is fiction.
If you can get past the inconsistencies in the story I still think that you will struggle with this book. It is almost as if it is written by a five year old and whilst I understand that maybe that is the effect Lilly was going for, it just doesn’t work. Especially as we know she is a 40 year old woman. It reads like a list and a poorly written one at that. The grammar is all over the place and there were too many spelling mistakes to keep a track of. I am really sorry to say this but it looks like the author just jumped on the “poor me” bandwagon and yet she didn’t even take the time to get a proofreader or editor to look over her book.
The stories of child abuse in Ireland are horrific and I apologise to Lilly O’Brien if by chance she ever reads this review if what I have written upsets her. I sympathise with her if what she has written is true but I am just struggling to get past the inconsistencies and how completely unlucky someone would have to be to go through everything she has mentioned. After reading an interview with her in which she states “the one thing all the negative reviews have in common is their desire to shut me up or at the very least make me look mentally ill and destroy my capability…” I feel I need to justify this review. I am not in any way religious and I believe that the Irish Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. I also don’t want to “shut her up”. That said, the book does portray her as mentally ill.
I really am unable to recommend this book.