My Name is Why

“My Name Is Why” by Lemn Sissay

Book review by Toni Adriano, Registered Manager

I had heard of Lemn Sissay but not been aware of this book until it was lent to me. I often struggle to find the time to read anything not directly work related but discovered that this was an easy to read account of a child’s difficult journey through the care system. With it came a loss of identity in a care system not fit to safeguard or meet the needs of a child who suffered trauma as a result. 

Three particular themes stuck out for me:

Firstly, the racism he suffered and the impact of this on him. The individual but also institutional nature of this was hard to read about. The impact on him was sad but clear.

Secondly, the discrimination he suffered as a child within the care system, with no one expecting anything but bad things of him, even though to me, he came across as a thoughtful and intelligent human being with an engaging personality. This discrimination was compounded further by the racism he suffered at the same time. 

Lastly, the way that information about Lemn was recorded throughout his case file. I have heard of a number of people who have accessed their files as adults finding it difficult to identify with the person on the page, but this was a stark reminder of how poorly information can be recorded and this made me think again about how the written word can be so powerful and emotive.

Lemn’s written word is also powerful and emotive, but in a very different way. I would encourage anyone to take the time to read this book. It was thought provoking, but I was also left feeling proud of Lemn for surviving this and then being able to share it with us all.

If you have a book you have read which you would like to share with others, let us know and we can include a write up from you in our future newsletters. My Name Is Why is available in bookshops and online.