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on 18 March 2014
I heard the co -author and story teller on the radio and ordered it fairly soon after that. I am a social work manager and thought I was buying a book which would bring life to children's experiences of life with alcohol dependent neglectful parents. How wrong i was- it is so much more! I have worked in this profession for 27 yrs, worked with some really harrowing situations, but this made me cry!!
Hope ( I know from your interview with Jeremy Vine you have changed your name so forgive me) you have really touched my core as a social worker. What this book has done is remind me that children hold onto memories and dreams which are often not in social workers' radars - like how we use jargon ( the case conference/ suitcase reference);and then the cornflakes packet reference to a concept of a proper family and such. I think I cried more because I am a social worker and recall hundreds of "Hopes" I have worked with on caseload and have breezed through children's lives. I teach social workers on the postqualifying course now and will, I promise you tell our students to read this, your account of your experiences as a reminder that everything we do should be influenced by how it actually feels to be a child like you. There are a number of memories you make which make me gasp, none of which I would have expected to have had such a strong affect ( another being the thoughts whizzing through your mind as you wait in the Police station). I absolutely love the fact this is written as a 9/ 10 /11 yr old but then links to notes made in your files. Anybody who wants to be a good children's services practitioner should read this book and I say that having dismissed so many other books recalling abuse. Thank you for reminding me why I chose social work as a career in the first place, but more importantly for reminding me of the Voice of the Child!
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on 1 February 2014
This is a compelling, and often harrowing, story of how the case system helped Hope Daniels survive and overcome an early life of deprivation and neglect. It leaves the reader wanting to know more about the care system in general and Hope in particular. The writing is sparse and powerful.
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on 27 December 2011
I literally read this in one sitting. I kept thinking I needed to go to sleep, but it is such a personal piece of writing - it felt rude to put it down. You don't feel this is a cathartic, tell-all horror story - it reads like the journey it is, perfectly framed at the outset by a love letter to Hope's granddaughter and closed with an open letter to Hope's father. It is about the weight of the cycle that Hope has broken and the joy that she has found in breaking it. I found it absorbing, compelling and thought provoking in so many ways - childhood, the relationship between parents and children, the impact of authority, the importance of a care system, the impact both of the individuals and the rules of that care system often in such unexpected ways; quite apart from the shocking reminder of what happens in our own backyard. Hope is devastatingly honest, you can feel how hard she has tried to bring her emotions as a child to the book - and you can feel that these are clear,current imprints rather than faded memories. Between the authors, they have ensured that the tone reflects Hope without reducing her to a symbol or a cliche. They have created the chance to see a child growing up to be both imperfect and an inspiration to everyone to be the best person you can be with the hand you have been dealt, without exception. It would be great to know more about Hope, but if we never do, this will provide food for thought and perhaps action for a long time and I hope, for a wide variety of readers.
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on 2 March 2014
I was driving home from London after seeing Strictly with my other half listening to a interview with Hope, and I found it absorbing, disturbing and ended full of admiration, she was talking about her book, and I couldn't get her out of my mind. My other half orderd me the book and it arrived on the Monday, now bearing in mind I haven't read a book for over 20 years due to work, family and other commitments, so I was weary that I might not get into it. I took it to work with me that night and I was transfixed, i couldn't put it down, I was reading at every opertuinity, every break and lol in my work I needed to know what was going to happen next. She tells the story through a childs eyes, with the innocense only a child has, and the wording they would use. I lived every moment with her and her brothers, I shared their laughter, tears, anger and jubilation but most of all, and most importantly an understanding. Its so easy to judge and draw opinions without knowing the circumstances, we're in the process of going through the adoption process and this book was to give myself an understanding of what we might face, as in case files and circumstances. Hope explains in her own words how things made her feel and how she coped with different situations, its an insight that will be invaluble in the future. I finnished the book in a couple of days, now I'm not known for being an outwardly emotional person but I freely admit i felt the tears run down my cheeks, the smiles and laughter, throughout and the need to contact her through her e mail to find out more, how their all doing now? I've already pre orderd her next book and hope she has written it in the same style, because the subject matter is of a more serious nature, but I'm sure she will have the understanding and sympathetic nature that will grip and the reader and leave them, like she left me, more determind than ever to follow through with the adoption process.
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on 24 December 2011
wow. the book arrived and i just started skim reading it; got sucked in and a day has gone by.

I was recommended to get this by a friend despite this not being the sort of genre i normally go for. The story is riveting, the writing marvelous and the subject of major importance...... this has to be one of the most engrossing books I've read and i can't recommend it highly enough.......
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on 12 September 2013
This book was extremely thought provoking for me. It raised many issues in the previous way in which fostering was conducted such as single parents not being able to foster and also about the voice of a child not being heard properly and the impact this can have upon the child and upon their self opinions. It covers issues of self harm, attachment and of a child's reaction to change in circumstances. This book highlights the importance of the need for stability in children's lives, especially highlighting the impact change in staff/SW's can have upon vulnerable children and how they interpret these changes of staff. It discussed the impact of poverty, alcohol and prostitution and also the cycle of behaviour from generation to generation. It was shocking how a child in care who was deemed unmanageable was put into a secure unit (like prison) and it wasn't even explained to the child as to why? It really gave an intimate insight into a child's coping mechanism to rejection and also peoples interpretation of their coping mechanisms. What was extraordinary was that even though the care system in my opinion treated Hope appallingly, she still believes that she was best off in care as the alternative would have been worse - stating that care didn't damage her, she was damaged already. Overall a truly inspirational book.
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on 15 February 2014
I bought this book after seeing the author in an interview on tv. I felt she sounded to have had a positive experience of the care system -but the book (for me) did not back this up. I felt frustrated and angry on her behalf. I would have liked more on why the care home she was in had a sudden change of staff and more about what happened to her brothers as they grew up...I don't normally read this kind of book so not sure if I am being "picky"
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on 25 November 2011
This is a wonderful book which should be read by anyone who is either already working with children or training to be a childrens social worker. The book is gripping at times, impossible to put down, tragic at times - I sobbed as did Hope when all hope seemed to have dissappeared, and inspiring as she refuses to accept her fate either as a neglected child or as a child in care. It leaves you feeling angry at the social care system that ignores the wishes of children and refuses thier involvement and at all society which let them down when they needed help most. Some people comfort themselves by thinking things have changed, but I am not so sure that is true universally.

My only critisism is that I was left wanting more - more about the events leading to sniffing cans and how that came about, so much is left out between significant events, and more about Hope as an adult and how she came to be a rounded and successful woman with a well adjusted and happy family.

A must read - when is the next installment?
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on 16 October 2012
Hackney Child is the true story of `Hope' Daniels - now a grandmother - reflecting on her turbulent childhood in 1980s Hackney. It is told from the perspective of Hope the child, yet includes insightful comments throughout from her own adult self. The juxtaposition between the narrative of the innocent and accepting young Hope and the mournful reflections by the adult author makes this book incredible powerful.

Hope, the daughter of a prostitute and an alcoholic, traces the story of her traumatic youth until the age of nine when she and her younger brothers ask the police to take them into care. This is no light reading. Each of the separate episodes which Hope describes is distressing in itself but, when compounded with the rest of the story, is deeply upsetting. The matter-of-fact tone with which Hope's voice is heard makes the tale all the more affecting.

It would reduce the impact of this incredible book if I were to share too much of its content. I can say that the thread running through this story is Hope's desire to have a `real' family, which jars with the sad reality that generations of her family have been removed from their parents and are therefore unable to parent their own children appropriately. There is, however, a ray of light shining through: we know from the outset that Hope has broken this cycle and has a happy family life of her and a new baby granddaughter for whom she is recording her memories.

For the full review, see the Beacon Hill Training blogspot.

Rebecca Maxfield is author of The Essential Guide to the Children's Court System, an easy to reference pocket sized booklet to help `everyday' people understand and work with the court system.
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on 15 March 2014
I choose to read Hackney child when I saw it on Amazon when browsing books to read relating to children's experience of the care system. I purchased the kindle version and began reading - it's a very powerful and moving account of a child's journey through care and experiences that led Hope taking herself and her brothers in search of a safe place. Hope's life before she goes into care, is characterised by her parents addiction to alcohol, her mum's inappropriate sexual activities, and their inability to care for their children appropriately.
The story moves on to detailing her experience of the care system, providing a reflective account of her thoughts, feelings and views. You get a real sense of her pain and hurts, her desperation to be part of the decision making process. This is a very powerful and moving story of a child's experiences – I laughed, I cried, I felt frustrated at times, and angry by some of her experiences at other times I felt the warmth of others who cared for Hope and tried to help her. I was very moved. Hackney child will provoke your thoughts and feelings and may stir up your own memories of childhood.
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