Shane Dunphy was involved in social care for fifteen years. This book is a distillation of some of the cases he encountered in that time into a single, year-long narrative.
In spite of the narrative’s compression, and allowing for the necessary change of identifying details, everything in this book is true. And what the truth reveals!
Here are the cases of three dysfunctional families, struggling at the margins of a society that barely acknowledges their existence.
This is a portrait of fatalistic despair, of families so sunk into chronic poverty and neglect that they are beyond saving themselves or their children.
All the elements of social dysfunction are present: the unkempt houses, truant children, endless television, anorexia, alcoholism, suicidal depression. Yet out of this mess there is hope as well as tragedy.
Many of Wednesday's children don't make it, but some do, surviving the most appalling childhood horrors to make it through to the normal adult world. But more are doomed. Despite the heroism of child protection workers and the best efforts of well-intentioned people, we still face a hidden mountain of avoidable human misery.
Wednesday's Child is shocking and disturbing and, most of all, true.