From BBC radio 4 Book of the week What does it really mean to be poor in Britain today Kerry Hudson explores her own childhood, growing up in grinding poverty, and some of Britain s most deprived towns.Kerry is an award winning novelist, with a love of travel, art, music and culture Yet her life was not always like this, as she spent most of her childhood living through poverty with a single mother who was always on the move Living in any flat or B B they could afford, Kerry attended countl From BBC radio 4 Book of the week What does it really mean to be poor in Britain today Kerry Hudson explores her own childhood, growing up in grinding poverty, and some of Britain s most deprived towns.Kerry is an award winning novelist, with a love of travel, art, music and culture Yet her life was not always like this, as she spent most of her childhood living through poverty with a single mother who was always on the move Living in any flat or BB they could afford, Kerry attended countless schools before she was able to leave that life behind her, twenty years ago.Lowborn is Kerry s journey to revisit where she spent her childhood, in the spirit of looking back to see how far you have come She also visits deprived areas of the country to see if anything has really changed.In Episode 1, Kerry looks back to her early childhood.Written and read by Kerry HudsonAbridged and produced by Jill Waters A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4https www.bbc.co.uk programmes m000 If you were to hear Kerry Hudson speak now, you would hear her soft Scottish lilt She would be telling you about her prize winning books that have enabled her to travel all over the world She is in a strong relationship and has plenty of opportunities and has access to many wonderful things.It could have been so different.Her score for the childhood trauma on the Adverse Childhood Experiences was eight out of ten Her mother and step father had a tumultuous relationship She moved constantly a If you were to hear Kerry Hudson speak now, you would hear her soft Scottish lilt She would be telling you about her prize winning books that have enabled her to travel all over the world She is in a strong relationship and has plenty of opportunities and has access to many wonderful things.It could have been so different.Her score for the childhood trauma on the Adverse Childhood Experiences was eight out of ten Her mother and step father had a tumultuous relationship She moved constantly as a child with her single mother between sordid flats and crumby BBs supported by social services She attended fourteen different schools by the time she was sixteen It was a tough upbringing, no money for the basics let alone luxuries and that poverty was grinding and dehumanising She almost ended up with a drinking problem, like her mother had and dropped out of school Was fortunate that a teacher saw her potential and as she put it saved her life.She is proud to be working class She was never proud of her poor background.Hudson was one of the lucky ones, she managed to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty, but the spectre of the past continues to haunt her This book is a brutally honest account of her upbringing and the cathartic effect on revisiting those demons from her past lives Butthan that this is a process of revisiting those place that she grew up, reconnecting with some of the people that she knew in from that past.It is also a health check on the state of our country too Pervasive poverty spares no one and austerity for the past decade has made the people who were in just about managing, now much worse off She was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with her opportunities, but the majority will not have this It should have been a depressing book, but Hudson writes with deft authority and in amongst the gloom shows that it is possible to be happy I think this should be required reading for all tory ministers, but as they are almost all heartless, so I doubt that they will be moved by this at all This is truly amazing I can t believe that someone could write such an utterly miserable story a story of their own incredibly difficult life growing up in extreme poverty and neglect and create something that is so rich, so engaging and so warm This is Hudson s memoir of growing up with a single mother, an erratic wider family, an absent father, some cruel step father figures against a backdrop of frightening council estates and small, grey, towns The book takes the reader through her ea This is truly amazing I can t believe that someone could write such an utterly miserable story a story of their own incredibly difficult life growing up in extreme poverty and neglect and create something that is so rich, so engaging and so warm This is Hudson s memoir of growing up with a single mother, an erratic wider family, an absent father, some cruel step father figures against a backdrop of frightening council estates and small, grey, towns The book takes the reader through her early life up to her teens and then supplements this with the re visiting of many of the towns she spent time in This is less social commentary andabout her story now and how she feels about those places and the people she meets along the way It s testament to the writer that there s no real anger or judgement in the book She tells her story as it is was and the reader is left to their own thoughts Although what you take away is the underlining feeling that things haven t changed in time Hudson managed to escape and use her amazing talent to write however it makes you think about the whole cycle of generations who aren t as lucky.As soon as I finished this I started reading Hudson s fiction novels and they are written just as beautifully as this 2.5 Nowadays novelist Kerry Hudson passes for middle class, but she can t forget the sort of situations she came from a family history of mental illness, a single mother who got falling down drunk, foster care, frequent moves between cheap B Bs and homeless shelters across Scotland and England, pawn shops and government handouts, bullying and sexual assaults In 2018 she returned to all the places she d lived as a child to see if they were the same For the most part, they were I stood in f 2.5 Nowadays novelist Kerry Hudson passes for middle class, but she can t forget the sort of situations she came from a family history of mental illness, a single mother who got falling down drunk, foster care, frequent moves between cheap BBs and homeless shelters across Scotland and England, pawn shops and government handouts, bullying and sexual assaults In 2018 she returned to all the places she d lived as a child to see if they were the same For the most part, they were I stood in front of those houses, feeling, well, nothing really Except, maybe, strong Except, maybe, genuinely, finally over it I can t really argue with the rationale behind this work to expose the plight of the poor in Britain so I feel churlish even suggesting that there are problems with the book But I had a pretty lukewarm reaction overall Chapters alternate between her past in a particular town and its reality today While there are some vivid passages of memories in the former sections, the travels in the latter sections are not particularly illuminating with the one exception of an affecting visit to a food bank in Coatbridge Hudson too often refers to this book in progress and details her decisions about contacting people and making travel arrangements For this book to have been published in the first half of 2019, she must have written it very quickly indeed, much of it on the road, and that shows in the writing, which has grammar problems me and Mum did X, etc not explained by a child s POV as they were in the fairly similar Maggie and Me by Damian Barr, which haslively narration and scene setting and is undistinguished to the point of blandness.Also,time was necessary for Hudson to really think through who she is now in relation to her past self She too often lazily points up the contradiction by referring to her bougie orders in hipster caf s, for instance While she s trying to make wider points about the country s situation, she only talks politics or statistics on a couple of pages This strikes me as an instance of the finished book not living up to the proposal Some photos of the places, and herself at different points in her life, would have been something to include I d recommend Barr s memoir or especially Allan Jenkins s Plot 29 instead.Some lines I liked There was no culpability Only fragments to be picked up, examined, partly understood and pieced together to tell this story I was learning about impermanence, that everything was expendable That you could wake up from one morning to the next and find your life had changed completely I was the very riskiest of combinations hopeful, hurting, vulnerable, newly aware of my sexual power and very, very lonely Verdict Story depth of topic and execution 5 5Memorability 5 5Enjoyment 3 5Writing 5 5Overall 4.5 5I found this a hard listen, which makes my enjoyment score a little unfair I don t know whether it s sleep deprivation or simply because I have a little baby myself now, but I felt so deeply sad listening to this I m privaledged in life to never have lived or witnessed true poverty Or at least I grew up blissfully unaware If you ve ever deemed someone a scrounger, layabout or wor Verdict Story depth of topic and execution 5 5Memorability 5 5Enjoyment 3 5Writing 5 5Overall 4.5 5I found this a hard listen, which makes my enjoyment score a little unfair I don t know whether it s sleep deprivation or simply because I have a little baby myself now, but I felt so deeply sad listening to this I m privaledged in life to never have lived or witnessed true poverty Or at least I grew up blissfully unaware If you ve ever deemed someone a scrounger, layabout or worse then this is a must read Challenge your own assumptions The saddest part is I m not sure how far we ve come as a society A challenging, compassionate honest read Highly recommended Kerry Hudson was asked to write her memoir, Lowborn Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain s Poorest Towns, by her publisher She did so even though the idea scared her When she received the book deal, she wept, because , she says, I didn t know how to free myself from the tyranny of silence and the growing shame that came with that voicelessness, because I was terrified of writing this book and also terrified I d have to live in this pretend sort of way forever if I didn t T Kerry Hudson was asked to write her memoir, Lowborn Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain s Poorest Towns, by her publisher She did so even though the idea scared her When she received the book deal, she wept, because , she says, I didn t know how to free myself from the tyranny of silence and the growing shame that came with that voicelessness, because I was terrified of writing this book and also terrified I d have to live in this pretend sort of way forever if I didn t This impactful memoir is her first work of non fiction after two successful novels.Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor The poverty she grew up in was all encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising Hudson was born in Aberdeen, and has lived all over the country Airdrie, Coatbridge, the northeast of England, Great Yarmouth, and Canterbury She attended nine primary schools and five secondary schools, and scores 8 out of 10 on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma.Hudson was born to a young Scottish mother extremely, possibly irretrievably, vulnerable and fractured, and extraordinarily naive and a much older American father, whom she had little to do with She and her mother first lived with her grandmother in a tiny place in Aberdeen, and when she was older, she was taken into foster care for a while Hudson had an awareness of her situation from a young age, reflecting I knew we were poor, really perilously poor, from the earliest age Now, her life is thankfully very different she has the means to travel, as well as a secure house, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books In her introduction, she writes Yes, I might have been lowborn but somehow, I ascended I eat well and always have somewhere decent to stay I heat my flat in the winter I ve travelled the world several times over and made a living doing what I love which also happens to be the preserve of People Not Like Me Still, of course, a huge part of her identity, Hudson was keen to explore where she came from She does this by revisiting the towns which she grew up in, to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed In her introduction, she goes intodetail, writing While my life is unrecognisable today, I find myself able to reconcile my now with my past I can best describe this vertiginous feeling as belonging nowhere and to no one, neither back there nor truly here I have come to believe that being born poor is not simply a matter of economics or situation, it is a psychology and identity all its own that, in me, has endured well beyond my escape The central question which Hudson poses in Lowborn is this When every day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being lowborn , no matter how far you ve come Reflecting on the writing of her memoir, Hudson shows what an effect it has had on her When January came around I felt less and less inclined to go home to my old towns It seemed this strange process was splitting me in half I was an archivist of my dead life At the point of writing Lowborn, Hudson has been estranged from her mother for some years Her memoir is raw, eye opening, and unflinchingly honest, and it feels pivotal to be reading it, particularly at a time when so many people are forced to live as Hudson once did, and believe they will never find a way out of it There is such sadness present within the book, at moments like this in which Hudson speaks of her childhood It often felt like I d never been a child at all, that only these eighteen years of burdened adulthood existed Lowborn is a triumph it feels entirely honest, and I greatly admired that Hudson does not shy away from writing anything down I first heard Kerry talk at a Vintage Roadshow at Forum Books, Corbridge before Christmas, this didn t put me off though and I was really fascinated by the concept of Lowborn.Earlier this year I went to another Vintage Roadshow and was pleased to be able to pick up an advance copy of this.It didn t disappoint It had me in tears, angry, upset, sad, but also laughing a lot due to the humour that came through.It s taken me a while and a second reading, well worth it to get my thoughts togethe I first heard Kerry talk at a Vintage Roadshow at Forum Books, Corbridge before Christmas, this didn t put me off though and I was really fascinated by the concept of Lowborn.Earlier this year I went to another Vintage Roadshow and was pleased to be able to pick up an advance copy of this.It didn t disappoint It had me in tears, angry, upset, sad, but also laughing a lot due to the humour that came through.It s taken me a while and a second reading, well worth it to get my thoughts together to write this review.The voice in this book is so honest, and due to my own past, familiar Kerry writes about her past in some of the poorest communities in the UK, growing up in a family that doesn t conform to the norms as seen in all the media that children consume and having to survive and hopefully grow from this Then once she has gotten out, returning to explore emotions, personal history, and memories.There is a lot of wry humour in this book, but by far it is the raw imagery of a past coloured by emotional and financial difficulties, both systematic and familial, that took me straight back to my own childhood and will have you fearful the child in the story and all the other children in stories like this all over the country now.The return to these communities is a huge emotional commitment and again is approached with wry humour and introspection, but also massive bravery It hurts to have to explore the past like this.If you only read one book this month make sure it s this one you will be amply rewarded I came across this book purely by chance whilst browsing Audible looking for something non fiction I hadn t heard of the author or the book before I love books about social history, but generally those I read are from the 1930s or earlier so I decided to try something that happened within living memory my living memory Kerry was born in 1980, the year in which I turned 14.This remarkable, brutally honest memoir starts in 1980 when the author, Kerry Hudson, was born in Aberdeen to a mother w I came across this book purely by chance whilst browsing Audible looking for something non fiction I hadn t heard of the author or the book before I love books about social history, but generally those I read are from the 1930s or earlier so I decided to try something that happened within living memory my living memory Kerry was born in 1980, the year in which I turned 14.This remarkable, brutally honest memoir starts in 1980 when the author, Kerry Hudson, was born in Aberdeen to a mother who really just didn t know how to be a parent Such a bleak childhood, with countless primary and secondary schools and never staying in one town for very long, it would be easy for this to be a miserable read, but it isn t There are elements that are shocking, sad and incomprehensible to someone born into a happy, middle class home with loving parents Initially I was going to say I felt sorry for Kerry, but whilst I feel total compassion, the one thing I don t feel is pity Kerry s is a tale of survival and achievement I am sure the scars run deep within her, but this is a real triumph of success and survival over adversity and I really enjoyed it.The Audio Book is narrated by the author, who has the most beautiful, gentle, reading voice.I must check out some of her fiction now This is such a beautiful book and I hope Kerry is going to get all of the recognition she deserves for opening herself up like this I ve known for a while how sick I am of middle class stories and problems and I hope this book will shock the publishing industry into really grasping what it already sort of knows that we need MORE WORKING CLASS STORIES Beautifully and simply told through the here and now Kerry, looking back on who she was and how that affects her as an adult I had to ration This is such a beautiful book and I hope Kerry is going to get all of the recognition she deserves for opening herself up like this I ve known for a while how sick I am of middle class stories and problems and I hope this book will shock the publishing industry into really grasping what it already sort of knows that we need MORE WORKING CLASS STORIES Beautifully and simply told through the here and now Kerry, looking back on who she was and how that affects her as an adult I had to ration the book to make it last on holiday because I wanted to inhale it in one sitting What does it really mean to be poor in Britain today A prizewinning novelist revisits her childhood and some of the country s most deprived townsWhenevery day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being lowborn no matter how far you ve come Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor The poverty she grew up in was all encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in BBs and council flats She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood traumaTwenty years later, Kerry s life is unrecognisable She s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world She has a secure home, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds Lowborn is Kerry s exploration of where she came from, revisiting the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed She also journeys into the hardest regions of her own childhood, because sometimes in order to move forwards we first have to look back