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Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell Hardcover – 8 May 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition edition (8 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333735242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333735244
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting yet at times, frustrating read. I bought this as the Mary Bell case was something that happened prior to my birth, and I didn't know a great deal about it. I was hoping to read Mary's story and see why she did what she did, and how it has affected her life since. On finishing the book, I'm still unclear on lots of things but this may well be down to the subject as well as the author.

Bell, it turns out, makes for a very difficult interviewee being at times evasive, erratic and often resorting to downright lying. One senses that the author, realising how difficult it's going to be to make this a coherent read, too often, uses the book as a platform for her thoughts and personal views and this starts to grate after a while.

All in all, I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the case and the aftermath as far as Bell is concerned but it is by no means an easy read.
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Format: Paperback
Like many people I always assumed that Mary Bell was a child who was simply born evil; a bad seed. And to be honest I didn't have much sympathy for her. However, after reading this book my views have changed. This child was prostituted to her Mother's clients from the age of four. She was frequently beaten and constantly told by her disturbed Mother that she was unwanted and unloved. Ten years of this treatment would make even an adult snap and do something terrible; The real miracle is that there aren't many more children who commit such crimes. Don't get me wrong: I ABSOLUTLEY sympathise with the two murdered little boys and their families; but I now also sympathise with Mary..........
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Format: Hardcover
The book itself was very well written and must have been very difficult to listen to such horror,both from the victims families,but also Mary Bell herself. I also do not condone what she did, but I can believe the anger she felt inside, which unfortunatly spilled over to the unthinkable act of murder. What is hard to come to terms with is the way Mary was treated by the system, and why on earth was no help given to her during these years? I do think she now has started to build her life again with the help of her child, and someday this child will learn what her mother had done, this is inevitable, and again Mary will have to face many months of healing. I hope in time our legal system will start to listen to these children who commit these terrible crimes, instead of just branding them evil, after all no child is born evil, only people make them so.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I remember the case from the press coverage at the time. The girl's very name became a byword for a monster child. This is apparently her own story, as told to the author, and although it is at times a slow read it does challenge many misconceptions about her. True, her version may at times appear half true, but she is recounting events from decades past when she was a tiny child; a child subjected to default abuse by her own mother. She spent many years in the penal system, so could she ever be 'normal'? The author also criticises the legal system. The law is an ass, no news there. It is regrettable that the press continue to hound her, to seek her out and make sensations. Funny how some offenders are never left in peace.
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Format: Hardcover
A book that caused much controversy on it's release, due to the fact that the subject, Mary Bell an convicted child killer (a term with two meanings - someone who kills children, or a child who has killed), was paid for her contribuion to the book. The book focuses on the treatment of mary once she was convicted and focuses on her experiences in the variety of institutions she was held over the years she was in custody. It presents mary as a child who had suffered terribly during her early years, largely due to the influence of her mother. Sereny presents a shocking view of a criminal justice system that is simply not geared up for the treatment of children, courts that only look at what actually happened, when in a case such as this the reasons for it are far more important than the actual details. Mary comes across as a woman who has suffered immensley both before and after the murders. She was moved around various institutions and was given little or no education, and then finally thrust out into the real world with no experience of what to do and how to cope. The book is easy to read and is full of emotion from Mary herself, the author and all the other people interviewed in the preperation of the book. Sereny draws remarkable parrallels between the Jamie Bulger case and the two boys convicted and the Mary Bell case. The sad thing being that it is obvious that in the intervening years the system has not changed and it's treatment of child offenders is sadly lacking in flexibility and concetration on the underlying motives involved in the committing of such dreadful crimes. Hopefully people in authority will read this book and learn that when a child does commit and offence of this magnitude, that the tragedy is not just that the crime occured, but that nobody noticed the problems of the child beforehand
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Format: Hardcover
A gripping and thought-provoking read, as the author considers the murders in 1968 of two little boys by 11 year old Mary Bell. Sereny had attended court at the time and wrote an earlier book on the case. Here she catches up with Mary Bell - now released and living under a new name with her partner and child - and in lengthy interviews with her tries to understand her thinking and motivations at the time.

I found the construction of the book worked well; rather than just working through Mary's life chronologically, Sereny begins at the time of the offence, then interposes discussions with Mary with memories of her time at a remand centre and later an adult prison. Not until the end does Sereny give us any great detail about Mary's early childhood, which helps explain her later crimes. Throughout Mary's life, like an evil genius, is the corrosive presence of her mother.

My feelings on Mary remained ambivalent; an unlikeable child, yet undoubtedly traumatized for life by her experiences. But could an intelligent 11 year old REALLY not understand the finality of death? Sereny's criticisms of the legal system as regards child offenders are persuasive however.
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