We orphans are the most important kids in the world.'
Stepping into the past, Paolo Hewitt embarks upon an inspiring journey to track down a group of friends he grew up with at Burbank Children's Home.
We meet Des, the boy who reinvented himself; Norman, the runaway child who crossed a continent; David, the boy who couldn't be heard; and Terry, the child who sat in a school field for four days. Paolo brings to life the struggles and triumphs of adults navigating life after care, and discovers many things: about himself, about care, but most of all about the indomitable force of the human spirit - even in the face of overwhelming odds.
But We All Shine On is a worthy companion to Paolo Hewitt's classic memoir The Looked After Kid: My Life in a Children's Home.
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 206 g
Dimensions: 215 x 138 x 15 mm
This book will put tears in your eyes and leave you with a smile on your face. It is a testament to the spirit of five boys who are forced to confront fear, loneliness and varying degrees of mental and physical cruelty, yet emerge as strong, decent men. Paolo Hewitt draws the stories of his four orphanage friends together with great integrity, splashing poetry and light over their shared trauma. Reading But We All Shine On is a humbling, uplifting experience. It is a worthy companion to the author's brilliant memoir The Looked After Kid. -- John King, author of The Football Factory and Human Punk Stories of hope and resilience that will break your heart. -- John Niven, author of How to Kill your Friends Reflecting on care in the not-too-distant past through the eyes of children, But We All Shine On gives insight into where we've come from, and challenges where we are and where we still need to go. It can help get us to the better future we all desire for children in care. In the created family of the children's home, relationships matter -- they can change and sustain a person for a lifetime, and bring the opportunities of life to be lived. -- Jonathan Stanley, National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care Reading these remarkably personal and inspirational self-discovery journeys bought a mixture of emotions that were both a joy and painful to feel. It never ceases to amaze me, the strength and humanity which stays secure within hurt children and lives with them forever. A beautifully written memoir which has to be read and recognized for the achievement it is and the dignity it deserves. -- Hope Daniels, author of Hackney Child Read But We All Shine On and you might act just a little differently next time you're out amid the crowds of humankind. These are stories of people all around us, but stories which their subjects wouldn't normally volunteer. They have told them to Paolo Hewitt because he spent his own childhood with them, in care. Hewitt relays their accounts with a warmth and wit familiar to those who enjoyed his wonderful memoir The Looked After Kid. These 'orphans' were boys who overcame awful circumstances to become fine adults - and they remind us of the vast unlocked potential of every child who through cruel luck is denied the childhood they deserve. -- Ian Burrell, Assistant Editor, The Independent Powerful, moving, touching and funny. Paolo Hewitt has given a voice to those who are often unheard. The characters stay with you long after you have turned the final page. -- John Crace, The Guardian Paolo writes with such deftness of touch and fondness for the real-life characters that populate this engaging memoir that the reader is taken into their lives and hearts; he opens a door and invites us into the world of the 'care' system in the 1970s.
Rightly, he makes us feel sad for the many, many children who suffered cruelty or indifference at the hands of people who were meant to care for them, but this is no misery memoir. Paolo doesn't dwell in the darkness or want us to - he shows us how so often the human spirit survives and triumphs over ill-treatment, rejection and abandonment, against all odds. He has no interest in pandering to the voyeuristic schadenfreude of readers who hungrily devour graphic accounts of child abuse; instead, he gives us hope, humour and warmth. Traumatic and poignant events are recounted factually and simply without the trappings of melodrama, but are all the more affecting for that.
His tone is honest and humane; he seeks to understand and forgive the wrongs done to him and others and tries to avoid judgment. In passing, he contrasts the experience of young people in care then and now, and even for those of us who know only too well that the system is still deeply flawed, the book serves as a reminder of how far we have come as a society in terms of how we treat our most vulnerable children. -- Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive, The Who Cares? Trust It could be said that family is a collection of disputed memories between one group of people over a life time. But for the child in care this "one group" of people is continually dispersed to the point of being impossible to recognise themselves. A non-family of shadows. With his pen Paolo projects light on the darkest path as he seeks the family that never was and unravels a tragic, comical, magical and moving story. All we are is our story. Without it we are pages of spurious ellipses. We need Paolo Hewitt with his torch. Shine on Paolo Hewitt. Shine on. -- Lemn Sissay MBE, writer If you want to read a beautiful, uplifting book about the survival of the human spirit, and good lives being forged from the most unfortunate origins, then But We All Shine On is absolutely essential. The subject matter and intensely personal nature of the material makes it perfect for Paolo Hewitt's positive, soulful prose. He and his friends don't spare us the pain and sorrow, but they make us feel the relief and redemption that love, hope, humour and togetherness bring to that suffering. -- Irvine Welsh Hewitt has shed a light on the murky world of late 60s and early 70s children's homes. An empathetic listener and master story teller his is the authentic voice... from the inside... first hand. The characters are his friends. They trust him. The stories herein are touching, funny and most of all redemptive. It's quite possibly his masterpiece. -- Dr. Robert, The Blow Monkeys Communicating the orphan spirit like no other, Paolo's latest work is truly riveting from start to finish. Touching on issues that are universal to care kids such as rejection and dislocation, his writing carries a sensitivity that can only be cultivated through brokenness. By the end of this book Paolo's life long discovery rings clear - that only when we wander through the pathway of darkness, do we discover the infinite power of light. -- Ashley John-Baptiste, Speaker, BBC Journalist & Care-leaver