Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Welfare Brat - Childers

In Welfare Brat, Mary Childers (pronounced "Chillders" according to her absent father, but "Child-ers" by her scorned mother) tells of growing up in an American-Irish family, one of seven children,  on welfare, struggling to survive in the Bronx during the racially tense 1960's. With an oft drunk mother constantly in search of love and acceptance, and a host of "fathers" (who only add to the family before disappearing) Childers struggled to find her place in the world while helping keep her family safe.

Childers endured a childhood mired in struggle, fear, need and sadness. She also found within herself a strength not many can claim.  Despite her trials, she ascertained that she would not become the next in the long list of family women to fall prey to men's needs, pregnancy and a forced welfare existence. She decides instead to go to college and, despite all the world throws at her, manages to succeed, eventually earning her Ph.D.

I really enjoyed this read. Having grown up in a single-parent home, I saw many similarities between her life and mine (though there were many, many differences!). The struggles of families like these are universal and timeless.  I can remember feeling similar feelings when I was younger...about wanting to avoid motherhood and being stuck in a welfare world. I too managed to not only survive, but thrive and also got an advanced college degree.

Interestingly, my fiance tells me that I am a bit hardened by my past. He is likely right...  Childers clearly was too.

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.


Jeane said...

It sounds like a good book. I'm going to see if I can find a copy to read for myself.