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Street Kid

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John Peel first brought Judy's moving childhood story to light on ‘Home Truths’. Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father and kept like a dog in the backyard, she went on to suffer at the brutal hands of nuns in a Manchester orphanage, before living wild on the streets. An incredible, heart-wrenching story of a child who refused to give up. After a childhood lived in t John Peel first brought Judy's moving childhood story to light on ‘Home Truths’. Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father and kept like a dog in the backyard, she went on to suffer at the brutal hands of nuns in a Manchester orphanage, before living wild on the streets. An incredible, heart-wrenching story of a child who refused to give up. After a childhood lived in terror, in 1994 Judy was presented with an Unsung Heroes Award for her charity work with street children in South Africa. Her moving story came to light after Judy was interviewed by John Peel on BBC’s ‘Home Truths’. ‘Street Kid’ is the inspirational and heartwrenching story of her early years. At age two, in postwar Manchester, Judy was snatched from her mother and sisters by her psychotic father – a spiritualist preacher. He kept her in his backyard, leaving her to scavenge from bins to beat off starvation. At four, she was sent to an inhumanely strict catholic orphanage, before being put back in her father’s cruel care. For the next three years she was treated as a virtual slave. After being taken by her father to South Africa, Judy ran away to join the circus where she found her first taste of freedom and friendship – before her father tracked her down. Weeks later Judy was alone again and living on the streets, too terrified to turn to her circus friends. For 9 months 12-year-old Judy made her home in a shed behind a bottle store before collapsing in a shop doorway from near-starvation. Finally, aged 17, Judy managed to pay her way back to England to find her mother and sisters. But her return to Manchester cruelly shattered any dreams of a happy reunion. Determined that her childhood experiences should in some way give meaning to her life, Judy has worked tirelessly to help children in need back in South Africa in the very place she had been treated to such abuse herself. She has opened 7 centres to date.


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John Peel first brought Judy's moving childhood story to light on ‘Home Truths’. Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father and kept like a dog in the backyard, she went on to suffer at the brutal hands of nuns in a Manchester orphanage, before living wild on the streets. An incredible, heart-wrenching story of a child who refused to give up. After a childhood lived in t John Peel first brought Judy's moving childhood story to light on ‘Home Truths’. Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father and kept like a dog in the backyard, she went on to suffer at the brutal hands of nuns in a Manchester orphanage, before living wild on the streets. An incredible, heart-wrenching story of a child who refused to give up. After a childhood lived in terror, in 1994 Judy was presented with an Unsung Heroes Award for her charity work with street children in South Africa. Her moving story came to light after Judy was interviewed by John Peel on BBC’s ‘Home Truths’. ‘Street Kid’ is the inspirational and heartwrenching story of her early years. At age two, in postwar Manchester, Judy was snatched from her mother and sisters by her psychotic father – a spiritualist preacher. He kept her in his backyard, leaving her to scavenge from bins to beat off starvation. At four, she was sent to an inhumanely strict catholic orphanage, before being put back in her father’s cruel care. For the next three years she was treated as a virtual slave. After being taken by her father to South Africa, Judy ran away to join the circus where she found her first taste of freedom and friendship – before her father tracked her down. Weeks later Judy was alone again and living on the streets, too terrified to turn to her circus friends. For 9 months 12-year-old Judy made her home in a shed behind a bottle store before collapsing in a shop doorway from near-starvation. Finally, aged 17, Judy managed to pay her way back to England to find her mother and sisters. But her return to Manchester cruelly shattered any dreams of a happy reunion. Determined that her childhood experiences should in some way give meaning to her life, Judy has worked tirelessly to help children in need back in South Africa in the very place she had been treated to such abuse herself. She has opened 7 centres to date.

30 review for Street Kid

  1. 5 out of 5

    Prerna

    Have read this book multiple times and each time I am on the verge of tears. The author has managed to strike that balance between not being overly descriptive while managing to make the reader feel every little thing that the child felt.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shahenda Khaled

    I usually don't feel comfortable rating biographies or something like that because that's someone's life but I have to make this exception. A lot of times in this I was on the verge of tears, almost all the time I was disgusted by what Judy had to go through. Three times is the exact number of how many times I was happy because something was working out for her and that book follows her from age 2 to 17. Imagine that! For those of you who don't know what this is about, it's about Judy who got kidn I usually don't feel comfortable rating biographies or something like that because that's someone's life but I have to make this exception. A lot of times in this I was on the verge of tears, almost all the time I was disgusted by what Judy had to go through. Three times is the exact number of how many times I was happy because something was working out for her and that book follows her from age 2 to 17. Imagine that! For those of you who don't know what this is about, it's about Judy who got kidnapped by her psychotic father from the warmth of her mother and two sisters only to be taken to live with him and the worst stepmother ever. Technically she's not her stepmother because they weren't married by you get what I mean. The amount of abuse and neglect that comes after this is enough to make me shudder remembering it now. I knew that what she went through happened in real life but I almost couldn't handle reading about it happening to someone I grew attached to through the pages. I know that she's doing great now but having this as your past is unimaginable to me. By the time I finished this I really wanted to meet her and give her one massive hug. I can't say that I didn't want to shake her at the end of the book when she was 16 - 17 and I wanted her to know that she couldn't let people treat her like that but I also know that the person I just read about all this couldn't possibly know at that point that she's worth more than that. As much as it disturbed me, it was an enjoyable, eye-opening experience and while I won't be jumping to read another true story about survival, it got me interested in biographies in general.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Milana

    This book is amazing. My sister got this book when she went to California and read it in the few days she was there. My mom found it about a month or two ago and decided to start reading it. I noticed she would never put the book down! When she finished it she kept telling me that I should read it, so I decided I would go for it. I loved it. I know some people think "Why would you like a book that is sad?" I don't like it because of how it's sad, but because of how she makes it through the negle This book is amazing. My sister got this book when she went to California and read it in the few days she was there. My mom found it about a month or two ago and decided to start reading it. I noticed she would never put the book down! When she finished it she kept telling me that I should read it, so I decided I would go for it. I loved it. I know some people think "Why would you like a book that is sad?" I don't like it because of how it's sad, but because of how she makes it through the neglect/violence/struggle. I was so happy in certain parts for her, but it was like when she finally got something that made her happy it got taken away. It really makes you realize how much you have. It also really really taught me why you don't judge someone for even the littlest things. It's kind of unbelievable that someone went through all of this. P.s. If you read this and thought that it ended to soon there is another book! It's called Street Kid Fights On! I plan on finding it somewhere and reading it next!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Bookworm86

    Read this book quite quickly. Memoir of a child who suffered horrendous abuse and went through what can only be described as hell. Very courageous little girl. A book I would definitely recommend xx

  5. 4 out of 5

    mois reads

    Judy A very good book what a life judy lived an awful.childhood another and father who didn't care what happened to her ,but she found the circus and found a new life .5STARS going to have to get book 2 to see how she gets on a strong lady . Judy A very good book what a life judy lived an awful.childhood another and father who didn't care what happened to her ,but she found the circus and found a new life .5STARS going to have to get book 2 to see how she gets on a strong lady .

  6. 5 out of 5

    Skyler

    "You can beat the outside of me all you like but you're not going to get the inside of me. You're not going to see me cry.""I'm used to tough. I'm stronger than you'd imagine. I'm a survivor."Street Kid is tough to read because so many of us prefer to look away when destitution rears its ugly head, and to refuse to acknowledge extreme abuse. We convince ourselves that humans cannot be monsters and through our rose-colored lenses, the world [in its entirety] is safe. But the world is not a shelte "You can beat the outside of me all you like but you're not going to get the inside of me. You're not going to see me cry.""I'm used to tough. I'm stronger than you'd imagine. I'm a survivor."Street Kid is tough to read because so many of us prefer to look away when destitution rears its ugly head, and to refuse to acknowledge extreme abuse. We convince ourselves that humans cannot be monsters and through our rose-colored lenses, the world [in its entirety] is safe. But the world is not a sheltered place in which to live. Just ask Judith Westwater. As a child, Judy was brutally beaten by her father and stepmother, Freda. Her mother struggled to care for her and more often than not, Judy was forgotten. Left alone to fend for herself, she was raped, not once, but twice. She spent time in an orphanage with nuns who couldn't care less about her wellbeing. She lived on the streets, hid out in backyards, ate from rubbish bins, and tried as hard as she could to blend in. Sometimes she was left on her own for weeks at a time with no money, no food, and no home to call her own. When her manipulative spiritualist preacher father kidnapped her and brought her along to South Africa, Judy Westwater found out the true meaning of Hell on Earth. Jack treated his daughter as a slave and used her as his own personal punching bag when, in truth, there was no one to blame for Judy's unhappiness but himself. If not for her courageous fighting spirit and innate will to survive, there is no doubt that Judy Westwater would have disappeared quietly from the face of the Earth. Her suffering, however, has waned and now she can gaze upon better and brighter days. Today, Judy works tirelessly to set up centers for street children coping with abuse and poverty- not unlike her own horrific childhood. Her creation of the Pegasus Children's Trust and her work in South Africa have saved the lives of countless children that the world had completely given up on. This is Judy Westwater's story- from street kid to hero.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Suzy Atkin

    I read this book in a matter of days. It made me feel a mixture of things, but all in all a fantastic true story of how humans can survive the most awful, heartbreaking situations. I commend anyone who has the courage to write their story such as this. I would recommend this book to all, and if you ever think your life is 'tough' this book will bring you back down to earth and quickly make you appreciate all you have! I read this book in a matter of days. It made me feel a mixture of things, but all in all a fantastic true story of how humans can survive the most awful, heartbreaking situations. I commend anyone who has the courage to write their story such as this. I would recommend this book to all, and if you ever think your life is 'tough' this book will bring you back down to earth and quickly make you appreciate all you have!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Beautiful. I could not believe some of the things to be true. It was fantasic, and made me wonder in awe how people live like that, how people could treat other humans like that. This book is truly an eye-opener. It really makes you thankfull for everything you have have in this life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Really good book. Not a usual pick for me but a friend gave it to me so I took a chance. Judy's story is powerful and awful at the same time. To know that this actually happened is horrific and I kept wanting to punch the various adults in the face for doing this to a child. Despite everything there is a seemingly happy ending as Judy grows and can break away from all the hurt in her life. She truly is a survivor and her detached way of writing (common for survivors) draws you in even more. I wa Really good book. Not a usual pick for me but a friend gave it to me so I took a chance. Judy's story is powerful and awful at the same time. To know that this actually happened is horrific and I kept wanting to punch the various adults in the face for doing this to a child. Despite everything there is a seemingly happy ending as Judy grows and can break away from all the hurt in her life. She truly is a survivor and her detached way of writing (common for survivors) draws you in even more. I was left curious about what happened to Judy afterwards and hope she has finally found happiness. I was curious about the psychological effects of growing up like this but as a first person narrative that is likely not something she herself would ever know or realize.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    It is a little weird to rate a book at the top when it is filled with such horror and brutality. It amazes me that in the face of such overt abuse that people choose not to see anything. It is horrifying how little we care about each other and how far away from other's problems we would like to remain. You have to give it to the author who made it through her life all alone without love, care and support. How she was able to come out of her childhood and to be successful is truly a miracle. She i It is a little weird to rate a book at the top when it is filled with such horror and brutality. It amazes me that in the face of such overt abuse that people choose not to see anything. It is horrifying how little we care about each other and how far away from other's problems we would like to remain. You have to give it to the author who made it through her life all alone without love, care and support. How she was able to come out of her childhood and to be successful is truly a miracle. She is a strong person to have survived her traumatic childhood and it is wonderful that she is able to give back to other children who are in the position that she was growing up.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

    One of the most remarkable true life tales I’ve ever read! Seriously astounding what this woman went through at such a young age and her determination and strength is beyond admirable and beautiful! Her soul is unbreakable and I was gripped throughout in the hope better things lay ahead! It is undoubtedly a terrible life to have suffered but to make her the woman she is today can only serve as a testament to us all that your past doesn’t necessarily have to dictate your future in a negative way, One of the most remarkable true life tales I’ve ever read! Seriously astounding what this woman went through at such a young age and her determination and strength is beyond admirable and beautiful! Her soul is unbreakable and I was gripped throughout in the hope better things lay ahead! It is undoubtedly a terrible life to have suffered but to make her the woman she is today can only serve as a testament to us all that your past doesn’t necessarily have to dictate your future in a negative way, but can be used to create good if you really want it too. I googled the wonderful trust she set up and what she continues to do is amazing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kenda

    As a South African, I was fascinated by the story of this girl ending up on the streets of our biggest city, back in the 60s. Fascinated and horrified. The fact that this is based on the author's own experience makes it all the sadder. Quick read, unless, like me, you had to put it down every so often and look at flowers or rainbows or something for a while. I became fully invested in the journey of the young girl, and was filled with revulsion, pride, awe, and sorrow along the way. As a South African, I was fascinated by the story of this girl ending up on the streets of our biggest city, back in the 60s. Fascinated and horrified. The fact that this is based on the author's own experience makes it all the sadder. Quick read, unless, like me, you had to put it down every so often and look at flowers or rainbows or something for a while. I became fully invested in the journey of the young girl, and was filled with revulsion, pride, awe, and sorrow along the way.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Wow, I could not put this book down. Judy's story is heartbreaking but she writes it in such a way that shows what an amazing and strong person she is. In so many ways this book deserves a five-star. To have survived such a childhood, to write about it, and to use her experience to help others is mind-blowing. As a South African, I was also particularly fascinated by her descriptions of Apartheid South Africa. Wow, I could not put this book down. Judy's story is heartbreaking but she writes it in such a way that shows what an amazing and strong person she is. In so many ways this book deserves a five-star. To have survived such a childhood, to write about it, and to use her experience to help others is mind-blowing. As a South African, I was also particularly fascinated by her descriptions of Apartheid South Africa.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Teagle

    what a life! The majority of this book is really hard to read because of the insanely difficult life the author lived. so sad that she had to endure such a life, but what a triumph that she has gone on to, not only be successful, but to dedicate her life to helping children today who are facing similar experiences. inspired.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sinead McElhone

    Reading about Judy’s childhood and challenges she faced as a teenager made me reflect on my own life and reconsider the things that I often moan about which now seem so trivial. She is a true inspiration and emphasises that if you have a dream, you should follow it and never let any obstacles stand in your way. It is fair to say that I felt emotional reading this memoir.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shanti Timalsina

    Getting a picture of this book on my mind it was extremely difficult for me to accept this terrible scenes are real in someone's life. What is any pain and problems compared to Judy´s , that too at that raw age!! Life is not to be taken granted as there is always someone who have faced a lot for survival Moved😍😍 Thank you for sharing your story Judy! Getting a picture of this book on my mind it was extremely difficult for me to accept this terrible scenes are real in someone's life. What is any pain and problems compared to Judy´s , that too at that raw age!! Life is not to be taken granted as there is always someone who have faced a lot for survival Moved😍😍 Thank you for sharing your story Judy!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Malak Raafat

    Somewhere along the beginning of this book, I questioned why I was reading it and why I’d put myself through something so tragic and heartbreaking. The answer to that is simple: Judy is a remarkable survivor, her story deserves recognition and she deserves credit for the disturbing and struggle-filled life she’s had. This truly was an emotional rollercoaster.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Polly

    Wow! How Ms. Westwater found the courage to write this book astounds me. She has personal strength, resilience, perseverance beyond boundaries. I hope she finally found peace in her life because the first 17 years sucked. It's sad but it's also inspiring to find out how much inner strength we all have, hopefully. Wow! How Ms. Westwater found the courage to write this book astounds me. She has personal strength, resilience, perseverance beyond boundaries. I hope she finally found peace in her life because the first 17 years sucked. It's sad but it's also inspiring to find out how much inner strength we all have, hopefully.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I enjoyed reading this book about a childhood of terror at the hands of her father. Would have given it a 4 star but found the fact that the child never caught a break was unrealistic. STill fun reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Amazing As harrowing as this book could be in parts i was mesmerized by Judy's resilience. Her struggle is beautifully documented and she is an inspiration. I was unable to put this book down and read it in a day. Amazing As harrowing as this book could be in parts i was mesmerized by Judy's resilience. Her struggle is beautifully documented and she is an inspiration. I was unable to put this book down and read it in a day.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    This is nonfiction...the reader keeps hoping it’s some sick-minded author’s idea of portraying the ugly truth of a little girl’s tortured existence. Didn’t think I’d be able to complete. Kept putting it down, seeing it, trying to decide: how can this be true? God bless Judy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Maguire

    This story was so shocking. But a brilliant read I couldn’t put it down. Poor Judy I can’t begin to imagine how she got through these horrors. I’m surprised this hasn’t more ratings & it should have been made into a movie, maybe someday.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Preston

    10 for this book, reading this book had me hooked from start to finish. How Judy got through this I will never know. Goosebumps from start to finish

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hulda Rós

    Was difficult to put down. Amazing someone goes through all that and makes it out alive in one piece. Will read her next book

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Horror at it's finest. The real monsters can live across the street, down the block, and sometimes in your own home. Horror at it's finest. The real monsters can live across the street, down the block, and sometimes in your own home.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy Taylor

    How heartbreaking to know that people treat children this way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mahrukh

    The story seems to be repeating itself making it very boring

  28. 5 out of 5

    Desiree'

    Amazing read! This story really takes you into the harsh world of some children through the perspective of an amazing survivor.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Walton

    Dieselblackcat It was an okay read. A lot of going back to they way her father treated her which was discussing and being raped twice poor kid. But as I said an okay read

  30. 4 out of 5

    Merehana Milner

    Was a good book once so got into it, it took awhile though

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