Precious : A True Story

3.8 (309 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Where are you from?' is a question I always find hard to answer. 1971: an ad in Nursery World. 'Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby' - me. The lucky applicants are a 57-year-old white woman and her daughter, who love babies, especially black babies. My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though the whole place makes my privileged mother's skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, choosing this home for me because, unusually for the estate, my foster mother talks proper, and I'll need a posh white accent for the bright future I have ahead of me. I'll cling on to that idea - that I've a bright future ahead of me - even though there's nothing in my upbringing to warrant it. Even though my mother's love consists of long absences, confusing behaviour and dauntingly high expectations. Even though my foster mother's love is overwhelming and suffocating. Even though I seem to be a magnet for abusive sexual attention from men I barely know.
Even though the authorities have no idea where to put me or where I belong, and nor, really, do I. And even when I fall pregnant at eighteen and find myself back in the rural town I'd tried to escape from, with a tiny baby dependent on me, I still think the future's out there. I'll find it, whatever it takes. "Precious" is the story of growing up black in a white community, of struggling to find an identity that fits amid conflicting messages, of deciphering a childhood full of secrets and dysfunction. Painfully honest, swerving from farce to tragedy, "Precious" has a spirit that refuses to be crushed.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 29mm | 410g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0747584214
  • 9780747584216
  • 596,742

About Precious Williams

Precious Williams is a former contributing editor to Cosmopolitan and her personal essays and celebrity interviews have also appeared in the Telegraph, The Times, the Guardian, Wallpaper, Elle, Marie Claire and the New York Post. She lives in London.
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Review quote

'A beautiful, haunting new Dickensian tale of growing up between two mothers and two motherlands, each making suffocating claims on a girl who I would have liked to call a friend. I'm so happy to have Precious now, reaching out over the years and the pond!' Catherine McKinley, author of The Book of Sarahs 'Brilliant, poetic, sensitive. A brave excavation of life for 'looked-after' African children in post-war, nationalistic Britain' Kriss Akabusi 'Raw, honest, heartbreaking and heart-warming, Precious will linger in your soul long after the book is closed, reminding us all that there is nothing more powerful on earth than the human spirit' Donna Hill, author of What Mother Never Told Me 'A beautifully-written, fresh and brave debut' Carrie Buckle, Contributing Editor, Harpers' Bazaar
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Rating details

309 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 25% (77)
4 42% (131)
3 22% (69)
2 9% (27)
1 2% (5)

Our customer reviews

This book seems to be marketed as a misery memoir but upon reading it is extremely well-written, upbeat and thought-provoking. Very atmospheric and not at all 'woe is me'.show more
by Ali James
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