The best books that are personal and important to me

Jessie Harrington Author Of The Girl in the Pink Shoes
By Jessie Harrington

Who am I?

I'm a 24-year-old, 1st time Author with big plans to call for major changes within our current social system, to bring the taboo subject of child abuse, to conversation. My own story, yes is an extreme case, but isn’t an uncommon occurrence and affects many. My book, The Girl In The Pink Shoes, was written not only for my own self-help but to also help many others to know they are not alone and someone is fighting their corner. I hope my book will open the right doors to raise awareness and make my charity, Your Voice UK, a success and help bring a brighter future to children who have suffered abuse.


I wrote...

The Girl in the Pink Shoes

By Jessie Harrington,

Book cover of The Girl in the Pink Shoes

What is my book about?

The Girl in the Pink Shoes follows the terrifying true story of my horrific childhood. I was subjected to seven years of the most shocking sexual abuse imaginable. My mother, who already had an abusive and destructive personality when she drank, would often beat my siblings and me. Things suddenly took a turn for the worst when she developed a new relationship with a man who was known to the police and registered as a convicted paedophile.

The grooming process quickly gathered pace, my ordeal escalated, and nowhere was safe! Drugged, beaten and abused at home, bullied at school led to suicide attempts. Eventually my stepfather placed me in a paedophile ring. My own mother knew what was happening to me and her violent rages towards me grew worse.

The books I picked & why

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Abused To Death 1

By Jessica Jackson,

Book cover of Abused To Death 1

Why this book?

Like my own book, Abused To Death, is very hard-hitting and often harrowing, as Jessica writes about the most chilling cases of child abuse like Baby P and Sylvia Likens, in a bid to raise awareness for a subject that is very personal to me. 

Jessica’s delicate approach to giving these children a voice, even in death, is incredible. She writes from a fictional child's perspective and somehow manages to tackle some very difficult stories, with the respect that is deserved. The stories she writes about are brought to life in a very interesting and gripping way.

Just by reading this book, you can tell an incredible amount of research has gone into this book and is well worth a read.


Twenty Years a Stranger (The Stranger Series)

By Deborah Twelves,

Book cover of Twenty Years a Stranger (The Stranger Series)

Why this book?

Deborah Twelves shares the same publisher as me and was very welcoming towards me when I joined Fortis. I found this an interesting book because like my own story, people in Deborah's life were misleading to her, as they lived a double life and in places, I found myself relating to what she had gone through.  

The book is beautifully written from the heart and it's hard to imagine the shock and devastation Deborah must have felt after finding out her husband had been living multiple double lives with other women and had even fathered children with them. It just goes to show you never really know someone. 

I found Twenty Years a Stranger a very gritty read with lots of twists and turns, as the truth is uncovered. A fantastic book written by a beautiful soul.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

By J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpré (illustrator),

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Why this book?

This book brings me back to my childhood and helped me get through some very dark times in my life, as I dreamed of a letter from Hogwarts to land on my mat. The Harry Potter books allowed me to escape my life and dream of magical worlds away from the pain I was suffering, but at the same time relate. 

Harry in the books, spent most of his life feeling like an outcast, orphaned, and never knowing his real parents, he was forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs. While Harry lived under the stairs, I was often forced to hide in the girls' toilets while reading the Harry Potter books. 

I think while many will just see the magical and fictional side to these books, children going through hard times will also be able to relate to the emptiness Harry feels, as he searches for a family to be a part of, while navigating a strange new world. J.K Rowling is a fabulous author and really was the person who inspired me to write my own story. 


My Story

By Elizabeth Smart, Chris Stewart,

Book cover of My Story

Why this book?

I first heard about Elizabeth Smart while writing my own book and have since followed her journey. She was kidnapped at the age of fourteen, from her house, at knifepoint and forced to live in the woods with her abuser for nine months. The abuse she suffered was horrendous, but she somehow managed to keep a level head throughout her ordeal.  

The strength Elizabeth has drawn from her ordeal is truly incredible and she now campaigns for awareness for child abuse. This is a very powerful book and Elizabeth proves that even after everything she went through you can come out the other side, as a survivor.  

If anyone is going through or has been through abuse, this book may help with your own journey’s and it might also be worth checking out some of the work Elizabeth is doing, as I believe it may help.


The Saddest Girl in the World

By Cathy Glass,

Book cover of The Saddest Girl in the World

Why this book?

Cathy has written many books about children from abuse, but I feel this book resonates with me, as the story of the little girl Donna, is very similar to my own story. Placed in care after being neglected by her alcoholic mother, all Donna really wanted was to be loved. 

I think this really is true with most children who are placed in the social system, the feeling of abandonment and detachment runs deep and we all just want to feel part of something, to be part of a family. 

Many of Cathy’s books are written to explain what can happen and the reality of life, when living in certain situations that many are just not aware of, or choose to ignore. This book is well worth a read, it certainly brought a tear to my eye.


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