Welcome to the my stop on the #Oi blog tour!! This title is certainly very different to the usual genre of books I review, however my professional work within mental health units meant that this biography of child abuse experiences would be an extremely interesting (and applicable!) read. Here’s my thoughts:
Oi – Snowball
Format – Paperback (320 pages)
Publisher – UK Book Publishing
Release Date – 15th November 2018
This is a harrowing personal voyage into the 1960-80s childcare system as experienced first-hand by the author and many like him. It was a brutally horrific system, that made countless victims of the very children it was designed to protect. These brutally horrific regimes, founded upon extraordinary levels of inhumanity, cruelty, violence, fear, and intimidation, brought children to their knees, brutalised, cowed and often in fear for their very existence.It was a stark, depressive, and oppressively dysfunctional system, that imposed perpetual physical suffering and mental hardship, upon its most vulnerable charges. It was a pernicious cycle of ritualised systematic abuse, inflicted on some of the most vulnerable children society could offer up.This was the environment that the ‘Unfortunates’ found themselves embedded in during the 1960s. It was a system that lacked care, thought, and all things humane. A system where the imposition of brutal physical and sexual abuse had become normalised, legitimised, embraced and ultimately, forcefully accepted. This was life in a local authority home. These were the homes of ‘the Damned’, where a catalogue of daily horrors were inflicted for the personal pleasure of those charged with the care of this hidden, and often forgotten, sub-culture of children who, through no fault of their own, were forced to embrace these traumas, and endure a fight for their very survival.
Oi is an extremely frank and transparent memoir of experienced child abuse within the British Childcare System. The book is written in a way whereby the events feel as if they are being witnessed through a child’s eyes, but narrated by an adult’s thoughts. The descriptions of abuse from physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and institutional are raw, but Snowball’s response often includes sarcasm and wit which really brings the personality and resilience of Snowball to the surface.
In the face of adversity, the reader learns that Snowball is vulnerable – as are many other children within the same system. A theme throughout the book is that Snowball additionally faces discrimination due to his race, however this does not overpower the writing, as there are regular reminders that children from all backgrounds are subject to the horrendous abuse reported.
In addition to exposing the vulnerability of being a child, Oi reminds the reader of how resilient children need to be in order to survive, particularly when survival is the only option under the circumstances and conditions Snowball is put through. The short chapters really shocked me as to how many different encounters a child can have with abuse and neglect (and I expect Snowball himself endured much much more than is included within this book).
Despite different settings, carers, and movement within the system, the shocking treatment of these children continues, even when nobody else is listening to their complaints. There is a real sense of powerlessness as children in Snowball’s position are left unheard, and become chronic victims of the actions of the adults they look to for care.
This writing really opened my eyes to the truths of the childcare system. Initially I thought these processes are in place to safeguard children, although I am aware that historically children like Snowball were still abused decades ago. BUT the further note towards the end of Oi reminds the reader that these experiences STILL HAPPEN. This hit me hard. We are so blind to what really goes on. We believe that many of the systems today are developed to save children from abuse in their own home, yet we ignore the potential for abuse to still be present within these ‘homes’ in 2019.
The long-lasting effects of childhood abuse for individuals such as Snowball are clear to see long into adulthood. Increasingly likely to turn to a life of crime, social deprivation, suffer with mental health issues, and lack of support – this could be anyone you pass in the street and we wouldn’t even know. Oi has truly opened my eyes to something I thought I already knew the truth about… it turns out, I didn’t even know the half of it.
This biography was extremely thought provoking and it really made me consider how sheltered we are to the shocking events and experiences of Looked After Children. I gave it a smashing five star rating on Goodreads, and will be recommending it to to others in the future!
You can follow the rest of the blog tour on the following dates!
Have you read this book? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments or get in touch on Instagram (@gntx) and Twitter (@gntx).
To buy a copy of Oi – Snowball and to see what other readers have said, head over to Amazon and Goodreads.
SNOWBALL (AKA DAVID LEE JACKSON) was born in Withington, Manchester in England, into an impoverished black family. Within months of being born, he found himself on the wrong end of abusive parenting, being hospitalised and close to death. Eventually recovering and well enough to be treated as an out-patient, he was placed into foster care, where he was loved and he began to thrive. Unforeseen circumstances forced him from this loving home, and he found himself at the brutal and often criminal mercies of an abusive and violent childcare system.
David survived, educated himself, obtaining an Honours Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in International Business. He has been an elected public official, served on a number of charity boards and forums, and is an active campaigner on social justice and equality issues. David has worked in the criminal justice system, working with drug-addicted offenders, many with shared or similar backgrounds to his own, and he is a well-travelled and widely respected project management consultant.
In 2018, David (under the name Snowball) published the widely praised and much talked about book, ‘Oi’ through the Amazon network, in which he detailed in all its brutally cold and horrifically ignoble glory, the horrifying levels of abuse, brutality and criminality that he encountered, while being raised in the British Childcare System throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
To get in touch with the author, use @OYFtheBook on socials to find him!
**Thank you to the author, and publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review and to Anne at Random Things Tours for approaching me to be part of the blog tour.**
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