“Mother Country” by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

9781472261908

I’ve read numerous pieces of Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff’s writings in various publications so was keen to read this. Thanks to Netgalley and Headline for providing me with a review copy.

This book is a wonderful collection of the stories of the families of the Windrush generation. The Windrush issue is currently prevalent in the media and although most have heard about it, many may not understand the background and why what is happening to those affected by it is injust. I will hold my hand up and say I too was in this camp, but this book enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of the situation and how it has impacted the people involved.

This book also gave me an insight into a different culture, one that is unfamiliar to me. Growing up and living in rural Scotland does not always give me the exposure to other cultures but by reading this book I was able to gain a glimpse into the experiences of others. I particularly appreciated the focus on women’s stories, something the author highlighted had been largely absent in other collections.

The book chronicles the sacrifices made by many and the families that were often broken as a result. The sacrifice made for a country that invited them and then years later tried to devalue and deny their contributions. There are heartbreaking anecdotes of racism, and the determination to hold onto their culture despite the hostility they faced. However, there is also joy, humour and a quiet dignity from the mix of celebrities and everyday people who have contributed their stories to this book.

For teachers and other educators, first hand accounts are invaluable in helping students to really empathise with the impact governmental decisions can have on the lives of those affected by them. I would recommend this book as reading to anyone wishing to explore these issues with their classes.

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