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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing story, but one that proves that positive outcomes are possible in even the most difficult circumstances
In June last year I reviewed "Breath in the Dark", Jane Hersey's childhood autobiography. Jane was born into the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Cheetham Hill in Manchester. Shortly after the birth of her younger brother her father abandoned the family, leaving three children in the care of their mother Annie. Annie simply couldn't cope. She suffered from depression,...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read
I found this book hard to read for a number of reasons. First, it is badly written - sometimes speech marks are missed out at the strat of someone's sentence, punctuation is either non-existent or wrongly applied, and the book is quite repetitive. Also, you have to have read the first book by this author (I hadn't) to understand what on Earth is going on and where this...
Published 9 months ago by JB


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing story, but one that proves that positive outcomes are possible in even the most difficult circumstances, 27 Feb 2013
This review is from: Full Circle (Kindle Edition)
In June last year I reviewed "Breath in the Dark", Jane Hersey's childhood autobiography. Jane was born into the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Cheetham Hill in Manchester. Shortly after the birth of her younger brother her father abandoned the family, leaving three children in the care of their mother Annie. Annie simply couldn't cope. She suffered from depression, asthma, diabetes and a compulsive eating disorder. She was addicted to prescription drugs and spent most of her life asleep on the sofa. When Jane was just six years old Annie depended on Jane to cash the National Assistance money, blag the doctor or the chemist to give her more amphetamines and to sell the second hand clothes that the community provided to pay for food.

Her childhood was non-existent. She was socially isolated, physically and emotionally neglected, and sexually abused by her father on the few occasions when she came into contact with him. By the time Jane was thirteen her mother had died and Jane was already showing symptoms of mental illness, including traits of OCD and Bulimia. She was regularly being fired from badly paid dead-end jobs partly because she had missed so much education that her work-skills were limited, but also because her social skills were almost non-existent. She simply didn't fit in anywhere. She was without a friend in the world.

Jane's first book ends abruptly when she is sixteen. Almost on a whim, she leaves the ultra-orthodox community of North Manchester to take a job as a chambermaid in a hotel in Windermere in the English Lake District. "Full Circle" continues her story from the age of 16 to the age of 28.

The cycle starts to repeat itself - she's fired from one job after another, fellow workers steal from her because she's too gullible to notice, her odd behaviour gets worse and worse. She's sexually abused and ends up living in Liverpool, married to the father of her son. It's a shotgun marriage, her husband regularly beats her to a pulp and his working class Catholic family are anti-Semites. Chillingly, her father-in-law describes seeing "The Angel of Death" in the bedroom, because. "She's a Jew." It's hard to believe that words like that were spoken in England in the 1970s.

So she flees the marital home in Liverpool and returns to Manchester with her baby son. At one point she takes a room in a brothel because she's too innocent to know why the landlady has taken her in. The landlady takes Jane's social security payments. Finally she returns to the ultra-orthodox community that had let her down so badly in the first place. The same cast of characters - relatives, social workers and community leaders who proved unable to help her in "Breath in the Dark" are still unable to come up with the help she needs. Things are complicated because she has "married out" to a gentile. This leads many members of the community to ostracise her, and one solution that is tried a few times by community leaders is to marry her off to old widowers who need to be taken care of. But her behaviour is too bizarre even for that plan to succeed.

She has sporadic contact with the mental health services. A middle aged Jewish psychiatrist describes her as being "of low intelligence". A more sympathetic psychologist explains to her "Someone shows you kindness and you reject them. Another rejects you and you smile.....You have things the wrong way round."Finally a psychiatrist gets to the bottom of Jane's problems. " She needs a mother. She's never been nurtured."

By the time Jane is twenty eight she's coping -just - by doing cleaning jobs and collecting glasses in pubs, and bringing up her son who's now at junior school. Then she meets the man she's now been married to for many years, and finally gets the consistent and regular psychiatric help she's needed for all of her troubled young life.

The psychotherapeutic community she is given a place in at the age of thirty recognises that she is far from being "of low intelligence" and shows her how to use writing as a form of therapy. "Breath in the Dark" and "Full Circle" are the result. They are both deeply disturbing and harrowing books to read, but they do show positive outcomes are possible even for the most distraught, abused and alienated children of our society. I wholeheartedly recommend these books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read and recommend., 19 Nov 2014
This review is from: Full Circle (Paperback)
Full Circle continues the autobiographical account of Jane Hersey's young life. As with Breath in the Dark, it is heartbreaking.

Jane's books are a way of taking back some control from a society that badly let her down.

If you read her books, pass them on to others. Her life story is a lesson for us all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Jane hersley, 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Full Circle (Kindle Edition)
Good to read life has changed for the better.Good luck Jane I hope you are happy and your son grew up to be a happy person
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5.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING AND HEART RENDERING, 4 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Full Circle (Paperback)
What I Find fascinating about this is how with a few well placed words the author draws you deep into the scene and somehow you feel you are part of it, seeing the world as she experienced it or indeed anyone in similar circumstances.

The writer talks about her attempts to raise awareness well I have to say the way the reader is lead with such honesty through circumstances that fortunately most of us will never have to live through definetly fulfils This wish.

I hope the author Has found happiness
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5.0 out of 5 stars MOVING AND POWERFUL READ, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: Full Circle (Kindle Edition)
Jane Hersey highlights so many important issues in her writing. It shows that we never know what goes on behind closed doors or what happens in people's lives. Full Circle is a real eye opener.

I found this book a compelling, honest and emotional read
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4.0 out of 5 stars How could this life go un-noticed??, 11 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Full Circle (Kindle Edition)
Having read Breath in the Dark I felt compelled to read on as I really hoped Jane could have some positives in her life!! Not to be I'm afraid. I can't BELIEVE that no-one saw fit to support this lady - therre were supposedly functoning adults who had regular on going contact with her and NO-ONE seemed inclined to intervene, how she managed to carry on is totally beyond me. She is a product of the most severe neglect, not so much by her poor mum who was so ill herself but by those who supposedly 'cared' for her as she grew into a young woman. A shocking, horrible indictment of society at it's worst. Jane I salute you for even being able to relive and write down your experiences. I would love to hear about your, and your dear little boy's journey and hope you have finaly found some love, respect and nurture in your life xx
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read, 7 Mar 2014
This review is from: Full Circle (Paperback)
I found this book hard to read for a number of reasons. First, it is badly written - sometimes speech marks are missed out at the strat of someone's sentence, punctuation is either non-existent or wrongly applied, and the book is quite repetitive. Also, you have to have read the first book by this author (I hadn't) to understand what on Earth is going on and where this woman's illnesses stem from. From page one you're pitched head-first into this woman's nightmare existence, with no explanation as to what's wrong, how she came to be this way, and only quick, furtive hints about her past life.

This woman's story is a nightmare. It's obvious she has depression and bulimia but her problems go undiagnosed for a surprisingly long period. She distrusts anyone who is nice to her or wants to help her, and she smiles and thinks good thoughts about thsoe who are horrid to her. At one point she ends up staying with a friend's ex-wife who - without consultation - begins to use her as a prostitute, sending men up to her room and taking the money for herself. I found this part really strange - would anyone be naive enough to not realise for themself what was going on, and why does Jane treat these unasked-for visitors so kindly, having sex with them becasue she feels sorry for them, when at every other part of the book, she runs like crazy from any man who shows even a slight interest in her?

This woman is obviously deeply disturbed. Her brothers treat her like dirt (why is never explained in this book), and until the end, she takes without question the violence her husband starts meting out to her. She has an appalling relationship with food - hiding it so she can stuff her face, then making herself violently sick - and she takes pleasure in being smelly and dirty. She urinates on herself and doesn't wash, but turns against those people who tell her she's starting to smell. It's horrendous - but all too true, given past cases - that not one person in her life up to that point had thoguht to help her. At school they must have seen her dirty and traumatised, but obviously no teacher took her aside and tried to find out how she was.

This is a rambling, confused, depressing mess of a book - you really are pitched straight into the life (and mind) of a mentally unbalanced woman. One of the physical signs of depression is tiredness, and Jane just wants to sleep all the time. It's amazing that her son didn't come to some kind of grief as all she does is sleep and eat, leaving him to his own devices, lying beside her - at one point a rat runs over him, but still she does not seek help. But still you get the impression that she loves her son, that she believes he is the only good thing in her life. It's just a pity she didn't get the help she needed much sooner, so she could have been more of a mother to him.

By the end of the book, the author has been hospitalised and told that her problems mean she will be institutionalised for life. However, there's just a big jump from the story to this ending, with no explanation as to how she came to get help, how she ended up in the hospital, who looked after her son - after the minute detail of the rest of the story, this leaves the reader with a very unsatisfactory ending. I really feel that the author could have been helped a lot more by her editor.

I'm unaware if this woman is still in a mental hospital, or if she got better (as much as she could) and was reunited with her son. It may sound harsh, but I think he iwas better off without her - he had no life with a depressed, bulimic mother who slept all the time, who unintentionally exposed him todanger and neglect. Even if she got better, some kind of psychological damage must have been done to her son by his poor start in life.

I hope the author is better, that the fact that she can write books means she's on some kind of road to recovery. Obviously she's been through too much to escape unaffected, but I am surprised at much she remembers of the past. She was obviously ill and confused, without medication and support, yet she can remember every detail of her life back then, including conversations word for word. OK, so some dramatic licence may have been used to reconstruct those days, but at times it's almost like she was an observer, on the outside looking in on herself.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read, 18 April 2014
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This review is from: Full Circle (Kindle Edition)
I did not enjoy this book. The author rambles and instead of feeling sorry for the author I felt irritated. I would not recommend that book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, 20 April 2013
This review is from: Full Circle (Paperback)
Jane Hersey shows us that the human spirit has infinite ability to grow and can never be limited by circumstance. Full Circle is a beautifully written, heartfelt memoir that will change the way you look at your community, the obstacles in your own life and the American Dream. An inspiration, a must read!

Jane reminds us that the greatest acts of love and failure can occur side by side; that isolation and loss can give way to accomplishment and promise. She offers the awesome hope that, regardless of its past, a life can go beyond endurance and reach for triumph. She leaves us with the memory of a child who clung to and refused to surrender the dignity of her soul.

I highly recommend this book! It is so inspiring and truthful. If you enjoy reading books about tough real life situations then this is a great choice for you. Her life is extremely interesting and really makes you think.
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Full Circle by Jane Hersey
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