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Submitted Literature

Full Circle

By Jane Hersey


"Full Circle" is the sequel to Jane Hersey's 'Breath In The Dark', which I reviewed a short time ago. I was pleased that Jane sent me a copy of her new book, as the first was both difficult, challenging and haunting to read, but also vital for clinicians and anyone working with children who may be Young Carers.

This shorter book follows Jane's life from the point at which she was left motherless, isolated (socially, psychologically and familially) and follows her experiences of an abusive marriage, becoming a mother, her sexual exploitation and her journey towards a safer, lighter, happier life. It is as harrowing as the first book, and is told in a similar stilted, stifling tone - reflective of the narrowness of Jane's isolated and contracted life.

This book - like the first - is important reading, demonstrating the impact that childhood experiences have on adult relationships, psychology and wellbeing. One thing in particular struck me here. In the epilogue, Jane talks of being finally admitted to a psychiatric ward and then a psychotherapeutic community. She writes, 'I do not use psychiatric terms in my writing because the developing and entrenched behaviours were perfectly normal reactions to abnormal situations' (p. 164). This is a crucial point - I could (and did in my first review) talk about Jane's experiences in terms of the various 'mental health' issues that she discusses in the book. But the book actively denies this interpretation - many of Jane's behaviours are completely rational, learned, and survival strategies. It is quite simply astounding that Jane has been able to write these two autobiographical narratives, given the years of impoverishment she suffered - and I, for one, am grateful she has shared her story. As with her first book, this will be one I suggest my student mental health nurses read.  

Key Themes:

  • Carer Issues

Reference: Jane, Hersey. 2013. Full Circle. Matador, 2013


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Thursday 7th February 2013