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Gypsy Boy: One Boy's Struggle to Escape from a Secret World Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

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Gypsy Boy: One Boy's Struggle to Escape from a Secret World + Gypsy Boy on the Run + Gypsy Girl
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (4 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340977981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340977989
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It was a revelation. Moving, terrifying, funny and brilliant. I shall never forget it - an amazing achievement (Stephen Fry)

Touching, insightful, funny and incredibly shocking **** (HEAT)

Explosive, sparkling and hugely entertaining - this is a twisted fairytale from a truly original mind (Hayley Atwell, star of The Duchess and Brideshead Revisited)

Gypsy Boy is a brilliant but bittersweet story, which reads like a magical fairytale. Although he could be excused for doing so, Mikey never descends into self pity - and has found the perfect balance between humour and harsh reality. Gypsy Boy sits somewhere between the grittiness of Irvine Welsh, and the charming warmth of Frank McCourt. (Dermot O'Leary)

best memoir since Running with Scissors (Attitude)

Mikey Walsh's memoirs were an unexpected smash hit last year and the audiobook version is every bit as enjoyable. (HEAT)

'Brash and frightening and funny -- tonally, think of Frank McCourt meeting Axl Rose.' (The New York Times)

'In this violent yet often comic memoir, Walsh writes of life as an English Gypsy.... Gypsy Boy feels, in all its cocky, awkward affection and anguish, like the real deal.' (The Boston Globe)

'A poignant memoir that bears comparison to the bestselling Running With Scissors--but better written and far darker.' (Kirkus Reviews)

'The earthy, violent, funny memoir of a gypsy boy in England. It's absolutely riveting, un-put-downable.' (Anne Lamott, The Miami Herald)

'He's an irresistible guide through this secret world, and the tour is strongly recommended.' (The New York Times Book Review)

Gypsy Boy tells the poignant story of a boy living in an unusual and secretive environment of shoplifting, boxing, and virtual illiteracy, a boy who desperately wants to please his abusive father but all the while grapples with his own clandestine issues. This extraordinary memoir about resilience and the human spirit is a rare glimpse into a world few of us can imagine (The Advocate)

'Absolutely can't be missed. If you're up for a funny, brutal, sharp memoir, this is the book you want.' (The Washington Blade)

'A sobering and compelling portrait of Gypsy life that is written by an insider.' (The Naitonal)

'Harrowing ... exposes disturbing connections between culture and abuse.' (The Washington Post)

'An inside look at the Gypsy world through the eyes of a Gypsy.... Read this book, and you'll never look at, or think of, a Gypsy in the same way.' (The Washington Times)

This stunning childhood memoir takes readers into the insular culture of Romany Gypsies. ... It is astounding that Walsh survived such brutality, without emotional support or formal education, to pen this unflinching but oddly generous memoir, demonstrating a respectful attitude toward Romany culture and affection toward his family (Library Journal)

'This is a wonderfully readable tale of love, abuse, and eventual escape--all lived in the heart of an English Gypsy family. The father is one of the most frightening figures I've encountered in years.' (Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story)

'Reading Gypsy Boy, I felt invited into a secret society. I've always found Gypsies mysterious and even slightly dangerous, and Mikey Walsh does an excellent job describing the cloistered lifestyle and fascinating traditions of the Romany people. Moreover, Mikey's personal story of being a misfit among misfits is both compelling and universal. I cheered for him every step of the way.' (Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land)

'Mikey Walsh provides an unsentimental and compelling look at the louche and brutal culture of Romany Gypsies in the U.K. ... Walsh analyzes the grotesqueries of Gypsy life in painful detail--garish trailers, stifling family ties, crime and crudeness, and the constricted options for women who are considered old maids at 21. Yet despite his gruesome experiences, he also praises the fierce loyalty and cultural continuity that have allowed Gypsies to maintain their dignity in the face of hatred for centuries.' (Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

Gypsy Boy is the first commercial memoir written by someone on the inside of the notoriously secretive culture of the Romany Gypsies.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Greg Jameson on 18 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
Gypsy Boy is my book of the year, and I would urge everyone to read it. It's the autobiographical story of Mikey Walsh, a boy growing up as a Romany Gypsy during the 80s and 90s. The pictures he paints of life in the camps, the Gypsy culture, and the Gypsy characters who had a major impact on his life (as they're not allowed to socialise with Gorgias - non-Gypsies) are stunningly vivid, conjuring in few words a real sense of place, so that as you read it's as if you can see and smell the places he describes, and as if you're watching the events unfold. Walsh uses a beautiful, lyrical narrative style, but never at the expense of clarity.

The early chapters about his birth and infancy leave his relatives to tell the story, and it helps to establish his mother and sister; as well as set up the major driving force of the narrative - his father's expectations for him. A prize-fighter himself, his father requires Mikey to carry on the line of well-respected Walshes, but it's clear from his first boxing lessons as a young child that he's never going to measure up and grow into the tough, fierce man that's required of him. Without any trace of self-pity, Walsh unflinchingly describes a childhood of horrendous physical, and even sexual abuse; but through using moments of tenderness and wit, he injects humour and pathos in equal measure, as he crafts a captivating story about a boy growing up and trying to fit in with the demands of his culture and satisfy his father's sense of honour. From the passages about his time at school, to the distance that grew between him and his sister, to the hopes he had for the future, Walsh carries you along with the power of his story-telling, and I found myself speeding up the pace of my reading, I was so keen to find out what happened next.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ja Trustram on 7 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
I can't believe that anyone could rate this with anything less than 5 stars. I was going to say that it was my favorite book of the year but then I realised that it is probably my favorite book ever. I brought it for my holiday and after reading one page I couldn't put it down and now Im ready for my holiday with a case full of books that will never live up to it. I genuinly feel sorry for people that let this book pass them by. I brought it on recommendation and it really did touch my soul. It is a rollercaoster ride of emotions and anyone who thinks this paints gyspies in a bad light couldn't be more wrong. He really could have chosen to go down that road but he hasnt. This is a man that proves that what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. Mikey didn't go to school and he seldom mixed with non-Gypsies and went through so many hard times yet he has written a book which which would be an achievment on its own. You will be shocked, you will probably shed a tear and you will definitly laugh out loud. He never wallows in self pity and is just telling his life story. He has been brave his whole life. He was a brave child and an even braver man.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aiden S on 11 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book affected me and hit me broadside right from the off. Gruelling in parts, it is one of the most compelling and powerful books I have ever read. I struggled on several occasions with its subject, but only because it was so well written and I felt truly invested in it.

I have never been moved to tears by a book before, but Walsh's book had me unashamedly reaching for Kleenex on many occasions. His writing is not all misery-lit, though, and he spices it with some wonderful humour, too. It is in this honesty of pain and good cheer that the book's power lies as it is completely absent of self-pity. I hope this book is a runaway success.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Loukas on 17 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a difficult reader in terms of what i choose to read and what i like after al and i have to say that this book grab my attention form page one and i couldn't stop reading, finishing the one chapter and feeling thirsty for more and more and as a result i have finished reading the book within 2 days....and now i'm wishing the author to release a new story. Definitely gets a place on the top favourite books of mine and proudly it will hold one of the prominent places on bookcase.

A story that makes you shed a tear and before you even realise you have a big smile on your face again and this goes on and on throughout the whole book, you never get bored. A brave child, becoming a respectable adult through laugh and tears, a story that you can sense the honesty and reality of it on your skin, becoming one with the character(s). I definitely recommend it!

One thing i don't understand is why amazon relates it only with other gay content books. I think is not the right reference. Is about a kid with dreams growing up in a family in which the laws and culture doesn't allow you to dream and think outside the box, everything is pre-set for you but if you have the courage you can overcome and achieve whatever you have dreamed of and more. Is about self determination, human power of mind and soul.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dolly on 26 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
As like some one else who wrote a review I to know Mikey, he is a cousin of mine on is mothers side. Mikey is a hero in my eyes, to come out not only being gay but also writing this book is a true testament to his bravery. It highlights some of the inherited ways to which we were all brought up to live by and believe, however we have to remember this is a book so not all of the information is necessarily true. There is obviously a lot in there to make it good reading. I do know Mikey's farther was very hard on him as yes these beatings did take place. All in all his farther and the whole of his fathers family should be ashamed! This book has only come into light in the traveling community in the past few weeks and to say it has caused a massive rift is an understatement. What I will say is that everyone I have spoken to congratulates Mikey on doing this only the people that have something to hide DO NOT. But please everyone that's reads this book, not all travelers are what they are portrayed to be.
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