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01 March 2014

Honey Brown: Through the Cracks

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Depths of human depravity - gone but not forgotten
Honey Brown has written a challenging book about a disturbing subject - child abduction, abuse and imprisonment. While the book is well written and sympathetic to the children and families involved, the emotional subject may not be a choice for some readers.

When "Alan" was 4 years old he was at a showground with his parents and he wandered off and disappeared. Despite massive police searches for "the showground boy" and national publicity he was never found. While most child abductions finish with murder, his parents still have hopes that he will come back to them some time in the future - to them he is gone but not forgotten.

Over ten years later "Alan" (not his real name) has grown into a strong boy who can at last physically challenge his ageing "father" who has kept him imprisoned and abused for so long. Alan attacks his "father" and locks him in the windowless room where he had been kept imprisoned most of the time. He can then explore the house, with its highly fenced and padlocked garden, where he has been kept for so long.

Next morning he finds his father has died because he didn't have his heart pills. When visitors arrive Alan hides and is found by Billy, a teenager who has suffered extensive abuse himself, especially when in juvenile care with the Church. Billy immediately recognises Alan's plight and tells him to avoid contact with the Police because they could put him into the kind of juvenile hell that Billy knows so well.

Billy takes him on a tour of the seedy and downtrodden parts of the city, living rough to avoid the authorities. Alan slowly learns about the real world he has been missing and gradually regains some memory of the time before he was abducted.

This is a somewhat disturbing story about the outcome of the depths of human depravity on young children and how a couple of victims get together to face up to living a normal life again. Well done Honey Brown in tackling this difficult topic in a compassionate and realistic way with an eventual heart-warming conclusion. I was especially affected because we live near where a child was abducted ten years ago. In that case his grave was found years later and the accused pedofile is currently on trial for murder.

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