The Saddest Girl in the World

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The Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of Damaged tells the true story of Donna, who came into foster care aged ten, having been abused, victimised and rejected by her family.

Donna had been in foster care with her two young brothers for three weeks when she is abruptly moved to Cathy’s. When Donna arrives she is silent, withdrawn and walks with her shoulders hunched forward and her head down. Donna is clearly a very haunted child and refuses to interact with Cathy’s children Adrian and Paula.

After patience and encouragement from Cathy, Donna slowly starts to talk and tells Cathy that she blames herself for her and her brothers being placed in care. The social services were aware that Donna and her brothers had been neglected by their alcoholic mother, but no one realised the extent of the abuse they were forced to suffer. The truth of the physical torment she was put through slowly emerges, and as Donna grows to trust Cathy she tells her how her mother used to make her wash herself with wire wool so that she could get rid of her skin colour as her mother was so ashamed that Donna was mixed race.

The psychological wounds caused by the bullying she received also start to resurface when Donna starts reenacting the ways she was treated at home by hitting and bullying Paula, so much so that Cathy can’t let Donna out of her sight.

As the pressure begins to mount on Cathy to help this child, things start to get worse and Donna begins behaving in erratic ways, trashing her bedroom and being regularly abusive towards Cathy’s children. Cathy begins to wonder if she can find a way to help this child or if Donna’s scars run too deep.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins UK
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Published on
Mar 20, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780007321575
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of ‘Damaged’ comes the poignant and shocking memoir of Cathy’s recent relationship with Tayo, a young boy she fosters whose good behaviour and polite manners hide a terrible past.

Tayo arrives at Cathy’s with only the clothes he stands up in. He has been brought to her by the police, but he is calm, polite, and very well spoken, and not at all like the children she normally fosters. The social worker gives Cathy the forms which should contain Tayo’s history, but apart from his name and age, it is blank. Tayo has no past.

Tayo is an 'invisible' child, kidnapped from his loving father in Nigeria and brought illegally to the UK by his drink and drugs dependent prostitute mother, where he is put to work in a sweat shop in Central London. When he sustains an injury and is no longer earning, he is cast out.

When Cathy takes Tayo to school he points out a dozen different addresses where he has stayed in the last six months, often being left alone. Tayo lies, and manipulates situations to his own advantage and Cathy has to be continually on guard. Tayo’s social worker searches all computer databases but there is no record of Tayo – he has only attended school for 3 terms and has never seen a doctor. He and his mother have been evading the authorities by living ‘underground’.

With his mother recently released from prison, Tayo is desperate to live with his father in Nigeria, but no one can track him down or even prove that he exists.

From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes a harrowing and moving memoir about two innocent and frightened ‘unfosterable’ children who do not know what it means to be loved.

This is the third book in the series.

The shock that strikes Casey and her family when Ashton and Olivia arrive is immeasurable. Two dirty, frightened little waifs stand before them, huge eyes staring around their new surroundings. Ashton – 9, Olivia – 6, have the same urchin look; hair running wild with head lice, filthy nails and skin covered in scabs. And the smell is horrific. The eldest two children of a group of five siblings, Casey had only been told they were coming two days earlier. But it was an emergency, temporary placement, and they were only due to stay a couple of weeks...

Casey is desperate to help these poor, lost children, who have been taken away from their family because they were considered at risk, but before she can even start to understand the horrific things that have happened in the past, she has to teach them the most basic of behaviours. Ashton and Olivia have no barriers and no sense of what’s right and wrong – her challenges begin with the toilet and eating habits.

The weeks roll into months and the months roll on, but bit by bit the children are starting to feel like they truly belong to a family, for the first time. With this new found security and love, gradually they start to reveal what really happened to them and their siblings at home, and slowly Casey can help them start to rebuild their young lives.

Includes a sample chapter of Too Hurt To Stay.

Joe knew his mother was cruel and violent, but he trusted his beloved father to protect him from her. When a freak accident saw his father burn to death in front of him, Joe was left at the mercy of his mother. Without the love of his friend and brother, he wouldn't have survived. With them, he went on to spend his life fighting child abuse.

Joe was just five years old and the horrific scene literally struck him dumb. He didn't speak for four and a half years, which meant he was unable to ask anyone for help as his life turned into a living hell.

His schizophrenic mother and two of his older brothers spent the following years beating him, raping him and locking him in the cellar at the family home. Fed on scraps that he was forced to lick from the floor, he was sometimes left naked in the dark for three days without human contact.

Unable to read or write, all Joe could do to communicate his suffering was draw pictures.

The violence and sexual abuse grew in severity as more people, including his stepfather, were invited to use him in any way they chose.

The only thing that saved Joe was the kindness of his elder brother and his only school friend, both of whom showed him that love was possible even in the darkest of situations.

At fourteen he finally found the courage to run away, hiding in a hut by a railway line, fed on scraps by some local children who found him.

Joe's is the ultimate insider's story, casting light into the darkest of hidden worlds, and a truly inspirational account of how one small boy found the strength to overcome almost impossible odds and become a remarkable man. Now that he has found his voice again, Joe speaks out against child abuse and helps support and protect other children whose lives have been blighted by it.

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