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on 13 June 2012
Jane Hersey is in her fifties, lives in Blackpool, is married with a grown-up son and enjoys music and gardening. Nothing remarkable about that until you read her moving and disturbing childhood autobiography "Breath in the Dark" and wonder how she survived into adulthood at all.

Jane was born into the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Cheetham Hill in Manchester. She was the middle child, she had two brothers. Shortly after the birth of her younger brother her father abandoned the family, leaving the 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. The family survived on National Assistance payments and handouts from Jewish welfare agencies. When Jane was just six years old Annie depended on her daughter 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.

Jane's childhood was non-existent. All her waking hours were devoted to her mother's and her brothers' needs. 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. Her plight was known to other family members, the school and welfare agencies but the support provided was lamentable. Jane was what we now call a young carer but the term hadn't been invented at the time.

Jane tells her story through the unmoderated voice of her childhood self. The voice is intense, innocent and powerful. The book begins when she is six and ends abruptly when she is fifteen and breaks away from the community that had failed her so miserably.

"Breath in the Dark" must be read by anybody with a professional interest in the issues it raises, and also by anybody who wants to be moved by such a powerful story. As Jane herself says about her work `The issues which are raised are still as relevant today and affect the lives of many children and young adults who never find a voice'.
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on 12 April 2013
This book was absolutely riveting... I seriously could not put it down! A very powerful account of a terrible childhood written in such a way as to totally engross the reader in the story. This book illustrates how much impact parental figures have on a child's life and how fortunate one is to have good parents and role models which, unfortunately, Jane Hersey did not. Kudos to Jane Hersey for sharing such a deeply personal story with us all. I'm looking forward to all future books from this fine author!

Intense and heartbreaking, this memoir shares a story that will leave you reeling. The matter-of-fact descriptions and memories of abuse, the rationalization that only a child can manufacture the despair.

I cried over this-sad tears, angry tears, and heartbreaking tears. How a little girl could live through such a horror show and still be with us is a miracle. That she has risen above that hell to share her story with others is a blessing. The story is raw and personal-and you can't help but keep reading so that you can know that she makes it through. This book moved me so deeply and will stay with me for a long time.
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on 26 May 2014
I felt really sad for Jane throughout both books.but i really enjoyed reading them both.Jane you are a wonderful woman.your mum would be so
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on 10 February 2014
The cover might lead you to think this may be an amateur writer's book, perhaps not that well written. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is an incredibly readable account of a childhood where almost everybody did the wrong thing at every turn causing a young child to carry a caring burden that would crush an adult let alone a 6 year old. The 'voice' of the child is so authentic it's as if you are in her skin every sad step of the way. Please, please write a sequel - I must know what happened next.
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on 14 October 2012
Compelling,traumatic and very painful to read. The author does an excellent job of opening a window into the mind of a six year old child.
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on 19 November 2014
Jane Hersey writes from the heart.

Her book provides a powerful, true account of life as a child carer for her mother. Together with poverty, missed childhood/education and abuse it makes heartbreaking reading.

Jane's major achievement is through her writing, which is compelling, but more importantly, it spreads awareness of issues that concern every one of us.
A must read.
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on 22 February 2014
i was truly shocked by this book, the neglect of jane and her family, this is a struggle i am sure that jane is still trying to come to terms with as i am sure she will carry these experiences very deeply for the rest of her life. there is a second book which takes you to janes adulthood and how she is now which is called FULL CIRCLE.
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on 19 April 2014
I enjoyed this a lot. Well written and candid. From the perspective of the child, adapting to the adverse childhood conditions. Her loyalty to her Mother is understandable yet truly magnanimous. Highly recommended for those who like autobiography featuring fighting human spirit.
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on 8 February 2014
A very sad memoir. I couldn't put the book down as it kept me gripped, however the story is heartbreaking and you find yourself getting frustrated because a lot of heartache and unhappiness could have been avoided, had there been more support and better intervention .
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on 3 March 2014
This is very sad but I enjoyed reading it and it took me back to life in Manchester where I worked as a district Nurse. It shows the depth some people go to for love of a mother, who even in adverse circumstances have tremendous hardships to endure.
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