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Memoir review – Trapped: my life with cerebral palsy by Fran Macilvy

December 14, 2018


What a remarkable book this is. I am absolutely amazed. It is so different from what I expected. The writing is lyrical and beautiful, the descriptions of Fran Macilvey’s early life in Africa are captivating and magical and that is in spite of the tough subject she writes about.

Born with Cerebral Palsy due to a tragic mishap at birth, Fran Macilvey takes us through her upbringing, her youth and her young adult life with almost brutal honesty. For much of her childhood and teenage years, she suffered appalling physical mangling at the hands of doctors and consultants who thought they could make her ‘better’. But they couldn’t. Cerebral Palsy isn’t caused by orthopaedic problems; it is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. I almost cried for her myself as she was passed from pillar to post, meanwhile feeling the stigma of being an ’embarrassment’ because she could not do what other children and young people do; and even worse, being treated as somehow mentally defective as well.

While this memoir may be about her life with Cerebral Palsy, it is just as much about the prejudice of society against people with disabilities and how they deal with them. Trapped is very much a self reflection and the ultimate hope it offers others in the same situation. Fran Macilvey has finally come to terms with who she is and what she has overcome and achieved, which, frankly, is a lot by anyone’s standards given the obstacles she had placed in her way. I was so delighted to read about her eventual love, marriage and child.

Nevertheless, the first part about her childhood in Africa stands out for me. It bears the hallmarks of someone who is capable of writing wonderful literary novels, and I sincerely hope Ms Macilvey will turn her considerable talents in this direction. Her prose is breathtaking and I would love to read more of this type of creative writing. Trapped is a wonderful book on many levels and I will look forward to reading more of Fran Macilvey’s work.

The link to Trapped: My life with Cerebral Palsy is here

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  1. I’ve had this on my kindle for ever and ever and for some reason I’ve not read it yet – but now, it’s going to the top of my list. Thank you Val.

    • I read it in 24 hours, Lucinda. Being down with flu has helped, but I couldn’t put it down! You’ll just love the Africa parts too, I know 🙂

  2. Fran Macilvey permalink

    Wow! Thank you, Val, for this kind, kind review. It’s cold outside today, but you warm my heart with your thoughtfulness. Thank you so much.

    If ever there was a reason to keep going with my writing – and many times, lately, I’ve thought of throwing in the towel – it is that friends like you keep faith with me. I shall keep writing, and hoping for the best.

    Fran XXXX 😀 😀

    • Fran, you MUST keep writing! You are so talented! I would love to see a novel set in Africa…you capture it so beautifully!

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