“I hear the vibrations of the universe and I call it love.
I want to go to it; need to go to it, need to dissolve in it. It calls me home.
And real love is the shedding of old feelings, emotions, longings, wants.
And the knowledge that there will be no more turbulence.”
Street Girl is an autobiography of Ms. McGrattan. This book is her narration of the events of her life, one we see studded with trials and hardships, from the streets of Sao Paulo to the streets of London, from hunger and destitute poverty to owning her own business.
I received this book via a Goodreads Giveaway (YAY!!) a few weeks back. It is the first book that I’ve read that was based in Brazil and one written by a Brazilian author which gives me so many reasons to be excited about this review.
The book begins with a prologue of her narrating a story her father told her, and we are immediately taken in. The story begins with a simple yet vivid narration of Sao Paulo, where I reckon was the turning point of her life, the make it or break it stage, where her decisions were meant to be well thought out. Thereafter she takes us back to the beginning, and then to where she is today.
I’ve never read literature from South America, so this was a first. I was excited, and as per usual the vibes that the book sent me when I signed up for the giveaway put me into high expectations. I didn’t know what sort of story it would be, but I wasn’t disappointed! If anything I want more. I was fascinated to learn about the workings of the country, a glimpse here and there, but that was enough to shine light onto life there.
It’s a quick read. The writing is easy flowing with no awkward breaks. The language is simple, direct, no beating round the bush, and each new chapter of the book is a new chapter of her life. A very straightforward telling of her life’s events thus far, and very compellingly told. You will read about her successes and her failures, her achievements hard earned yet admirable, her relationships; some appalling, which will leave you horror, while others endearing.
A easy read I did say, but I must stress on the contents. Some chapters are not for the lighthearted. Even the author herself warns the reader to skip ahead. I was repulsed by certain incidents she had to go through and in knowing her intentions and her strength of mind; I admire her courage to be able to free herself from these situations. We constantly find her in situations that are not in any way good, especially at her young age, but time and time again we find that she takes to good and leaves the bad aside.
I loved that she found camaraderie in those who have nothing to give her, or help her, the children from the slums. It was a warm feeling to know that kindness and humanness is not something one has to have material possession to embody. Her position as a girl growing up, and later as a woman making her way toward bettering herself, is something to take note of. She manages to charter her way through the dangerous waters of exploitation and abuse, while keeping her sanity. She could easily have followed the route of many in her position, but she kept to her beliefs and followed her dreams.
I love how she never once blames anyone for the incidents in her life and how it began and the many shady paths it lead her to. I love that she took hold of her own destiny, in the sense that she didn’t expect from others, but worked hard to achieve her dreams. I cannot imagine how she lived through some periods of her life, but she made it and it gave me hope! And I reckon this story will do so, even by a tiny bit, to anyone who reads it. I love that she shows you can go from poverty to living comfortably, from despair to happiness, if not ideal at least one where you are at peace with ones self if you dare to dream and keep at it.
She believes that a life without knowledge or education of any sort is to be blamed only on one’s self. We find that she snatched at every opportunity to better herself, and she firmly believes that no life experience goes to waste, but builds ones self.
Her poetry is a reflection of all her life’s experiences. Outbursts of a deeper understanding of different aspects of life. I was delighted to find that I deeply related to a few of them.
“When I look towards the light,
do I see the glow of realization,
the purity of perception,
or just the glare of confusion,
without shadow or relief- ubiquitous and implacable?
If meaning is menacing,
If its hell,
Then is it a hell of my own making?”
Its hard to find a fault with the story. I was truly disappointed that the story ended. I would love to know more about the author, and took the liberty to do so. She is truly an incredible woman. Her endurance is admirable; her faith in painting the greater picture is inspirational. If anything this book is a humbling one, portraying not only a life of hardship but also one of holding on to hope. From beginning to end, one thing was very clear. She always was master of her fate, not letting others tell her otherwise.
Street Girl was published on May 28th 2016 by Pen Works Media.
Lets get talking!
If you have read this book, what are your thoughts on it? Did you enjoy the read?
Do memoirs like this fare as well as works of fiction?
Do you have any recs for me based on this read? I’d love to know.