by Valerie Mason-John - £9.95 BAAF (2008)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781905664375 | ISBN 10: 1905664370
I could have been born and raised in Africa. But my Spirit was in too much of a rush to be reincarnated... At six weeks I was chucked out into the new year of 1965 which wasn’t prepared to welcome an African baby, abandoned on a harsh English winter’s day.
So begins Pauline’s spirited and moving story of her childhood and teenage years in and out of foster homes and back and forth to Dr Barnardo’s Village in Essex. Her Barnardo’s family was ruled by an unlikely trio – Aunty Claire, a fervent Christian; her laconic husband, the German Jewish Uncle Boris; and Aunty Morag, the cook. And of course other children orphaned or abandoned like Pauline. Woven into this account are Pauline’s angel and spirit companions – Sparky, Annabel and Snake – who by turns help and hinder her to survive in the “real world”.
The Barnardo’s good times and stability are shattered by the sudden visits of her mother, whom she calls Wunmi and with whom she goes to live in a London high-rise. Wunmi’s method of refashioning Pauline into a dutiful African child is literally to knock the English out of her.
Pauline’s attempts to survive include sniffing glue and shoplifting until the harsh realities of detention centres and juvenile courts make Pauline think again...
Valerie Mason-John’s frank and revealing memoir of her childhood and adolescence is an important story powerfully told about growing up black, female and in care. It has much to say about the perils of childhood and how we raise children in today’s society.
The Banana Kid was previously published under the title Borrowed Body by Serpent’s Tail. It won the MIND Book of the Year in 2006.
(Price & availability last checked: December 2018)
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In booklists: Adoption and Fostering: Memoirs and Family Stories, Children & Young People in Care, Black British Women, Childhood Memoirs, In categories: Children & Young People, Society, Welfare, Justice & the State, Feminism & Women, Black, Asian & Other Diasporas, History & Biography,