My Name is Why
At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in an adopted family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth. Here Sissay recounts his life story. It is a story of neglect and determination. Misfortune and hope. Cruelty and beauty. Sissay reflects on adoption, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation's best-loved voices, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.

My Name is Why Details

TitleMy Name is Why
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 4th, 2019
PublisherCanongate Books Ltd.
ISBN-139781786892348
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography

My Name is Why Review

  • Joanna
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic but heartbreaking read, devastating account of the treatment of children and systemic failures the care system in the UK.
  • Tom Mooney
    January 1, 1970
    If ever there was a book to expose the failures and pointlessness of governments and local authorities, it was this one. This book made me fucking angry. The treatment of Sissay during his 17 years in care is an absolute fucking disgrace and everyone (save a couple of heroes he meets along the way) should be utterly ashamed of their involvement.Sissay was left to swim against a tide of abuse, rejection and red tape, his only weapons his thirst for rebellion and obsession with Bob Marley.The thru If ever there was a book to expose the failures and pointlessness of governments and local authorities, it was this one. This book made me fucking angry. The treatment of Sissay during his 17 years in care is an absolute fucking disgrace and everyone (save a couple of heroes he meets along the way) should be utterly ashamed of their involvement.Sissay was left to swim against a tide of abuse, rejection and red tape, his only weapons his thirst for rebellion and obsession with Bob Marley.The thrust of this book is undeniably passionate and moral and right. The writing wasn't quite as I hoped, however. I mean, it's fine and it's accessible, but I was hoping for something more daring. Also, the early proof I read is an absolute mess, full of errors and it feels very unfinished. But I guess they'll straighten that all out by the time it's published.
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  • Jane Gregg
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve really liked and admired the strong, pure focus of Lemn Sissay’s voice as a poet and a broadcaster at large every time I’ve had the opportunity to read or hear it. In this incendiary memoir of his childhood at the hands of the Authority (love how he personalised this depersonalised figure in the book) in Britain, 1967-1985, it could not be more muscular. This man is exactly my age (he’s 2 months older). What he experienced in his life as a young child completely alone in the world, stolen b I’ve really liked and admired the strong, pure focus of Lemn Sissay’s voice as a poet and a broadcaster at large every time I’ve had the opportunity to read or hear it. In this incendiary memoir of his childhood at the hands of the Authority (love how he personalised this depersonalised figure in the book) in Britain, 1967-1985, it could not be more muscular. This man is exactly my age (he’s 2 months older). What he experienced in his life as a young child completely alone in the world, stolen by the State from his mother by deceit, will break your heart - especially when you think of the many for whom this book speaks. But what is strongest here is the insistence he has on his name, place, right to be, spirit for survival, and his superpower - poetry. Being able to see the world as a poet gives him dominion over all the petty managers, social workers, ‘care’ home ‘family’ staff (some who try to help in their bumbling, inefficient ways) and most of all the pair of hopeless morons appointed to ‘parent’ him. Lemn (if you read these reviews): you are why. And you know that. I will seek Lemn Sissay’s work out wherever and whenever it can be found. It is the least one can do to honour the brave heart of the man and all those who had the misfortune to share these experiences.
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  • Sandra Armor
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished the audiobook of #MyNameIsWhy by @lemnsissay. Heartbreaking and yet empowering. The audio production is fantastic. You have to listen to Lemn tell his own story. Tears of joy when he got to Poet’s Corner. This is a book I will listen to and read again. ‪Just finished the audiobook of #MyNameIsWhy by @lemnsissay. Heartbreaking and yet empowering. The audio production is fantastic. You have to listen to Lemn tell his own story. Tears of joy when he got to Poet’s Corner. This is a book I will listen to and read again.
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  • Holly Jackson
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing, beautifully written, brave, poignant, anger-inducing, moving, there really arent enough adjectives! Having been a fan of Lemn Sissay for several years now, I was eargerly awaiting this book, I pre-ordered it and as soon as it arrived I started reading. Even though it meant putting the book I was already reading (catch 22) on hold, which is something I never do! I have to say it was worth the wait and certainly did not dissapoint. Lemn sets out his experience of childhood in the care sys Amazing, beautifully written, brave, poignant, anger-inducing, moving, there really arent enough adjectives! Having been a fan of Lemn Sissay for several years now, I was eargerly awaiting this book, I pre-ordered it and as soon as it arrived I started reading. Even though it meant putting the book I was already reading (catch 22) on hold, which is something I never do! I have to say it was worth the wait and certainly did not dissapoint. Lemn sets out his experience of childhood in the care system from the very begining in chronological chapters, each one begins with a beautiful poem written about that time/experience. He is honest and unflinching in his portrayal of himself, his family and the 'professionals' who were charged with his care. It would be easy to read this book and dismiss it as something that used to happen to kids 'in the 60's' but the sad truth is that the experiences that Lemn describes are still all too common in the care system today; and the only way to change this is to face them head on!If you or someone you know have ANYTHING to do with any child who is now, or has ever been in the looked after system you MUST read this book!
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  • Didde Elnif
    January 1, 1970
    En god og vigtig bog om plejesystemets fuldkomne svigt. Den behandler mange af de samme tematikker som Why be happy, when you could be normal? om adoption, plejefamilier, identitet og hvor uforståeligt dårligt nogle mennesker behandler børn. Jeg vil dog anbefale at starte med Why be happy, særligt, hvis man ikke har et forhold til Sissay i forvejen - det er en utroligt ulykkelig bog, men Why be happy gik meget mere under uden på mig.
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  • Ruth Hazard
    January 1, 1970
    A devastating account of society's complete and total failure to care for a vulnerable child at a time when he needed it the most. It broke my heart and it will break yours, too. Thank you, Lemn, for sharing your story so beautifully and so honestly. A reminder that we need to do better and we need to do more - for all the Lemns out there (of which there are many).
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  • Sarah McHugh
    January 1, 1970
    Really recommend this book. Very powerful but not an easy read. Raises so many questions about identity, family dynamics, the times, unchallenged everyday racism, as well as humanity and the lack of humanity
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    One of the first times I have started and finished a book in the same day. Devastating but very evocative and powerful writing. Puts the care system to utter shame and broke my heart on several occasions.
  • Jojo
    January 1, 1970
    Not an easy read, but one that should be more widely shared. The sorry treatment of a child in care, which I hope but may be do not believe, could not happen today. Written with the pain showing but not flaunted.
  • Sally Marshall
    January 1, 1970
    My Name is Why?I’ve been following Lemn for a while, being a social worker myself. His story is horrific and needs to be heard. I thank Lemn for sharing his story so practice like this is prevented. Excellent read, I’m almost ashamed for ‘enjoying’ his story. Brilliant man, book and poet.
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  • belinda
    January 1, 1970
    Good book, so sad that this little boy was taken unnecessarily away from his own mother and the abuse and heartache he had to suffer because of this and all at the hands of the authorities
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