My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

My Name is Why

At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in an adopted family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth. Here Sissay recounts his life story. It is a story of neglect and determination. Misfortune and hope. Cruelty ...

Details My Name is Why

TitleMy Name is Why
Release DateApr 4th, 2019
PublisherCanongate Books Ltd.
GenreNonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, Audiobook

Reviews My Name is Why

  • Joanna
    Fantastic but heartbreaking read, devastating account of the treatment of children and systemic failures the care system in the UK.
  • Tom Mooney
    If ever there was a book to expose the failures and pointlessness of governments and local authorities, it was this one. This book made me fucking angry. The treatment of Sissay during his 17 years in care is an absolute fucking disgrace and everyone (save a couple of heroes he meets along the way) should be utterly ashamed of their involvement.Sissay was left to swim against a tide of abuse, rejection and red tape, his only weapons his thirst fo...
  • Jane Gregg
    I’ve really liked and admired the strong, pure focus of Lemn Sissay’s voice as a poet and a broadcaster at large every time I’ve had the opportunity to read or hear it. In this incendiary memoir of his childhood at the hands of the Authority (love how he personalised this depersonalised figure in the book) in Britain, 1967-1985, it could not be more muscular. This man is exactly my age (he’s 2 months older). What he experienced in his lif...
  • Sandra Armor
    Just finished the audiobook of #MyNameIsWhy by @lemnsissay. Heartbreaking and yet empowering. The audio production is fantastic. You have to listen to Lemn tell his own story. Tears of joy when he got to Poet’s Corner. This is a book I will listen to and read again. ‪Just finished the audiobook of #MyNameIsWhy by @lemnsissay. Heartbreaking and yet empowering. The audio production is fantastic. You have to listen to Lemn tell his own story....
  • Holly Jackson
    Amazing, beautifully written, brave, poignant, anger-inducing, moving, there really arent enough adjectives! Having been a fan of Lemn Sissay for several years now, I was eargerly awaiting this book, I pre-ordered it and as soon as it arrived I started reading. Even though it meant putting the book I was already reading (catch 22) on hold, which is something I never do! I have to say it was worth the wait and certainly did not dissapoint. Lemn se...
  • Dawn Fuge
    I can't begin to explain how angry this book made me. Mr Sissay was let down at every turn throughout the whole of his childhood as a result of everything from the officious to the sadistic elements of the care system. I felt heartbroken, devastated and yet also inspired by him and his perseverance. I thought the book was well done, but in the end I wanted more. I wanted more from him and I had so many questions at the end. Did he find his mother...
  • Didde Elnif
    En god og vigtig bog om plejesystemets fuldkomne svigt. Den behandler mange af de samme tematikker som Why be happy, when you could be normal? om adoption, plejefamilier, identitet og hvor uforståeligt dårligt nogle mennesker behandler børn. Jeg vil dog anbefale at starte med Why be happy, særligt, hvis man ikke har et forhold til Sissay i forvejen - det er en utroligt ulykkelig bog, men Why be happy gik meget mere under uden på mig.
  • Ruth Hazard
    A devastating account of society's complete and total failure to care for a vulnerable child at a time when he needed it the most. It broke my heart and it will break yours, too. Thank you, Lemn, for sharing your story so beautifully and so honestly. A reminder that we need to do better and we need to do more - for all the Lemns out there (of which there are many).
  • Sarah McHugh
    Really recommend this book. Very powerful but not an easy read. Raises so many questions about identity, family dynamics, the times, unchallenged everyday racism, as well as humanity and the lack of humanity
  • Alex
    One of the first times I have started and finished a book in the same day. Devastating but very evocative and powerful writing. Puts the care system to utter shame and broke my heart on several occasions.
  • Jojo
    Not an easy read, but one that should be more widely shared. The sorry treatment of a child in care, which I hope but may be do not believe, could not happen today. Written with the pain showing but not flaunted.
  • Sally Marshall
    My Name is Why?I’ve been following Lemn for a while, being a social worker myself. His story is horrific and needs to be heard. I thank Lemn for sharing his story so practice like this is prevented. Excellent read, I’m almost ashamed for ‘enjoying’ his story. Brilliant man, book and poet.
  • Emma
    I can’t tell you how angry this book made me. I want everyone to read it, and understand a little of the care system and how fundamentally broken (& bigoted) it is.
  • belinda
    Good book, so sad that this little boy was taken unnecessarily away from his own mother and the abuse and heartache he had to suffer because of this and all at the hands of the authorities
  • Jessica
    Beautiful written and told, is a heartbreaking portrayal of the care system and you’re constantly asking why and how this happened.
  • Amelia