Worthwhile Read
Gypsy boy is a fascinating and revealing memoir about growing up in a community of Romany Gypsies in Great Britain. Gypsies are notoriously secretive and therefore often misunderstood. While some stereotypes are based on misinformation (the “Gypsy curse”) others turn out to be quite accurate. For example, Mikey Walsh’s father is very proud of his fighting ability and his love for violence seeps into his home life. This can create some pretty hard to read sections describing the beatings Walsh’s father would preform in order to ensure that his son would grow up a good fighter too.

Sections of this book seem to fall into two categories. Hard to read (cock fights and domestic abuse) and hilarious, but you feel slightly guilty for laughing (story about children being encouraged shoplift).

The book begins on a humorous note and highlights some funny memories, but the dark aspects of Walsh’s childhood soon overshadow the humor. His account of sexual abuse as well as the physical violence his father subjects him to, is sometimes a bit much to read about. These are real issues that need to be addressed, but it is difficult to think of a solution when many of these issues stem from how a specific group identifies itself and is wrapped up in the group’s cultural pride. There is also the issue of Walsh’s sexual identity and how that conflicted with the culture he was surrounded by, thus causing him tremendous pain (emotionally, psychologically, and physically).

While this book left much to be desired, it was a worthwhile read. It challenged certain assumptions and brought issues to my attention that I would not have thought of otherwise. Just because something is not comfortable, does not mean it should be avoided.