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Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies
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Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  2,343 ratings  ·  380 reviews
An Eye-Opening Memoir of Growing Up Gypsy

Mikey Walsh was born into a Romany Gypsy family. They live in a secluded community, and little is known about their way of life. After centuries of persecution, Gypsies are wary of outsiders, and if you choose to leave you can never come back.

This is something Mikey knows only too well.

Growing up, he didn’t go to school, he seldom m
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Petra X smokin' hot
The kid in this book is a gypsy. His life revolves around organised violence, he has to learn bare-knuckle fighting and to witness it and to regularly experience it. Life is fighting, drinking, getting money (not always legitimately) and staying away from his father. Life gets worse, he's gay... He leaves. He's literate, his saving grace.

Warwick said in the comments on his review of The Fringe Dwellers about attitudes towards the aborigines of Australia: "[I]t seems a bit like that to me too, it
I thought the whole point of Misery Memoirs was that they all look the same. Same black-and-white image of a crying child; same kiddyish cursive font; same plaintive title. Dearth of creativity among publishers aside, at least the reader knows what they’re in for.

When I picked up Gypsy Boy, with its no-nonsense title in block lettering and cheery cover image of a grinning boy, I did not know what I was in for. Gypsy Boy is, in fact, the ultimate Mis-Mem. Ostensibly a colourful memoir about growi
Someone else called this book relentlessly violent and felt the author was using the violence to pander to the prejudice of 'Daily Mail' readers. She is right in one point, the violence and abuse met by a boy of six, eight, twelve... is horrifying in its relentlessness . However, in her rejection she misses just about every other point this book has to make and why people like Stephen Fry think this is a very touching and important piece of auto-biography. For one thing, it is one of the very fe ...more
i. merey
Mikey Walsh is a Gypsy boy born to a father who wants a fearsome bare-knuckle boxer as his first-born son. Mikey is sensitive, he's love-starved, he's eager-to-please, but he is not a fighter. He spends the first fifteen years of his life getting regular and horrific beatings, his father's attempts to toughen him up. He watches his mother regularly get beaten to a pulp--he is sexually abused by his uncle--and further along, he discovers he's gay, which is hard enough in any world, but in the hyp ...more
I ordered this book online the day after hearing the author interviewed on the Choices programme on BBC Radio 4. I don't recall ever having heard such honest and heartfelt and unapolagetic emotion from a man before. I have always been fascinated with Gypsies and their way of life/culture so I hope to learn a little more from this man's story.

It didn't take me long to read this harrowing tale of survival. I was shocked at just exactly how violent the life of a young gypsy man could be and how un
I jumped at the opportunity to review "Mikey Walsh's" (the author uses a pseudonym) book as I am researching the Romany culture for a work of my own. There are few memoirs about the Romany Gypsies, and this is a first-hand look at their life in modern times.

Mikey starts his tale with his wedding day, looking back on his life up until that moment. He recounts his father's bullying ways as he wants to make his son into a great bare-knuckle boxer like so many of the other men in the family. He reco
I want to give this book 3 1/2 stars, really, but I guess it tends slightly to the lower side of that.

Mikey Walsh has an amazing story to tell of his childhood among an English Roma family. His story is full of colorful characters, adventures, and horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It was fascinating to me to read an insider's view of a lifestyle so very different from my own. I very much enjoyed reading the book.

But there were also some serious flaws. I think the worst of these is
This is a disturbing book. The author offers a very uncomplimentary view into the life of Gypsy families. Constant violence, beating of spouses and children. Daily drunkenness of males, with beating up each other outside the home too. Hopefully just as an exception, the author was being regularly raped by one of his uncles. Children are indoctrinated regularly to hate 'Gorgias' (non-Gypsies), and sent to school only for a few years (or not at all) to avoid tainting them(?). Males earn their inco ...more
I don't know what kind of crack gadje are smoking when they say this book breaks stereotypes, but it must be a pretty powerful kind because this book does nothing more than take stereotypes and pound them repeatedly into the reader's head. It uses words like "all, most, never, always" over and over, and wants the reader to know that Rroma (and not just his stupid should-be blakbolime family) steal, scam, physically abuse, oppress and more. And then has the audacity to bash the Irish Travelers an ...more
Wow! I suppose this book could easily just be looped in with the many horrifying child-abuse stories that run rampant off grocery store shelves, but this one is particularly interesting as it's about a culture that I knew nothing of, but always wanted to. It's true there are many bits of this book that kept me up at night, but it's also a book that was impossible to put down and had me racing onto the next chapter to see what would happen next to Mikey. A word to the sensitive in disposition, th ...more
*•.♥.•*Sabrina Rutter*•.♥.•*
Mikey's birth was his father's dream come true! A son to carry on the family legacy of tough bare nuckle fighting Romany gypsy males. From day one his father began the task of preparing Mikey for the life of a fighter by placing a gold necklace with gold boxing gloves around his new born son's neck. Mikey however didn't match his tough, sadistic father's ideals, and soon his young life was one torment after another.

As if suffering from daily beatings from his father, and run of the mill bullies
I've had a fascination with gypsy culture for years, especially because my mother believes we may be descended from them on her side. (She has a romantic view of our family tree.) Finding anything to read about gypsies has been tough, though. Until now.

Mikey Walsh takes us into his startlingly violent and tradition-driven life. From his earliest memories of realizing he wasn't going to be the prize fighter his father envisioned to his first gay love with a gorgia (non-gypsy) man and all the hea
I’ve long been fascinated with the Roma (or Gypsies, as Walsh more commonly refers to them), and was extremely excited to read this book --the only other Roma book I’ve read is Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing: the Gypsies and Their Journey, which focused largely on the Roma in Eastern Europe. Walsh, by contrast, grew up in England – and, unlike the grinding poverty throughout Fonseca’s book, Wash insists that Gypsies are not generally poor.

Reading this book, though, I thought of it less and l
Warren Rochelle
I found this book this summer when I was in London. It was my last day and I found myself browsing in a bookstore--Waterstone's, I think--on Piccadilly, down the street from the tube station. I needed a book to read on the plane home. Gypsy Boy looked liked it might make a 7-8 hour flight.

I don't know a lot about Gypsies (and I thought Roma was the now-preferred term, but Walsh uses Gypsy throughout the memoir), other than what I have picked up via popular culture. As I write this, I am remember
Susan Nadathur
Mikey Walsh's story is definitely a page-turner. It's intriguing, but at the same time, disturbing. While the back cover text promises access into the secret life of Romany Gypsies, I don’t think we get any truly unique insights into this supposedly secret world but rather a painfully vivid account of family violence at its most gruesome—an unhappy reality that can exist in any family, from any country, any ethnicity. Being raised by a man who is violent and a woman who is powerless is a sad rea ...more
I thought this book was brilliantly written and very gripping.

Then I found out it's possibly fiction, and we have all been fooled.

Read this:

It's the blog of one of Mikey's ex-boyfriends, one who would be portrayed in a negative light in the sequel, "Gypsy Boy on the Run." He points out the falsehoods in both books. In particular, look at part 7.

Now, I have to add the disclaimer that I don't know for sure what the real truth is, and I don't know either the
Callie Craighead
"You can take the boy away from the Gypsies, but you can't take the Gypsy out of the boy."

An absolutely flawless book describing the tragic life of a young modern day gypsy. I never knew much about gypsies, but after reading this I am fascinated with the legacy of their culture, and just how deep their roots run.

The plot of the main character not fitting in to the gypsy lifestyle that was forced upon him was well played out. It started out not so bad and you thought maybe he could make it (when
I liked the idea of learning about the Gypsy-Roma culture firsthand.The fact that Mikey was gay added an interesting twist. What I feel I learned was what a horrible upbringing Mikey had with a physically abusive father, a sexually abusive uncle and an abused mother. He wasn't the "man" his father wanted him to be, was an unsuccessful bare knuckle boxer and didn't live up to the family legacy for which he was continually punished from an early age.
He had no resources from which to seek help and
I ordered this book without knowing what it was even about. From the beginning I wasn't able to get enough. It gives a dark look into a culture that many don't know anything about. As for what happened to Micky that could happen anywhere. How everything went unnoticed is shocking to me and how no one really attempted to help this young boy for everything his father did to him. But when he thought he finally found love from his uncle to only be betrayed by that uncle was crushing to me. What was ...more
Amanda Zirn
Wow! I usually don't read books like this but this memoir was amazing. Despite how raw and detailed it was at times, it truly gave you an inside look at how hard life can be for a child who is struggling with their orientation, especially in a culture that does not accept it at all. I found this story extremely shocking at times and often found myself reading with my hand covering my mouth in pure shock. Through the abuse and intense stories, you create a strong bond with the author that can onl ...more
Thomas Ullman
An autobiography by a gypsy boy who realises he is gay. It's brutal and then brutal again. It is also funny and at times life affirming.

Very simply written but none the worse for that. I read it in four days and thoroughly recommend it.
Jul 02, 2014 Miriam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Miriam by: Ari
Shelves: brown
I really enjoyed the ending of this book.
At the beginning it gets somehow too painful, like there's too much suffering even for fiction and maybe there is a lack of dialogues.
As the book goes on you can see how the character (how do you write this word? Too many H's)grows and becomes more mature, this is were the book becomes interesting, when he starts to think like a man.
The epilogue is the perfect ending for this kind of story.
The writing style is flawless from the first page to the last o
Amy Raffensperger
Although some current reality programs claim to show the "hidden world of Gypsies", this book gives the real, far from glamorous life of real Gypsies. Mikey Walsh had the misfortune to be born into a family of "Gypsy Royalty", in which he was expected to continue his father's legacy of bare knuckle fighting. At his birth his father gave him a necklace with gold boxing gloves, and started his training at the age of four by teaching him to "take a punch". Walsh details the horrifying abuse he and ...more
Dec 13, 2014 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people whos knowledge of gypsies is limited to peeps with hoop earrings
Shelves: 2014
My knowledge of present day gypsies living in England is admittedly embarrassingly limited. I have a vague memory of Brad Pitt playing a boxer in Snatch and not understanding a word he is saying, comes to mind. Gypsy Boy, a memoir, sheds some much needed light on the subject.

It’s an insular world for the gypsies in England. You rarely go to school, stick to your kind and caravan. In essence everyone takes care of one another but there are many unspoken rules, one of which, for a boy is to be to
Mikey, had a tough upbringing as a Romany Gipsy child, a brutal father who would beat him on a daily basis, and an uncle who for or a time a who would abuse him weekly in perhaps an even worse way. Mikey new he was different, he did not relish the violent ways of his people, but it was not until puberty that he realised the full extent of his difference; and with that came the realisation that his only way to survive was to escape.

Gipsy Boy is Mikey's own account of his childhood. With minimal s
This book, I picked up because it was recommended by Stephen Fry. I was hoping it would give some insight into Romany culture, I was a little disappointed. As the cover suggests it is one of those autobiographies about a miserable childhood. The boy here happens to be a Romany Gypsy born in England, who has the misfortune to be born to a violent father. His father was a bare-knuckle champ in his day and wants little Mikey to follow in his footsteps, but Mikey is not cut out to be a fighter like ...more
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A sad story of a boy growing up in a Romany (gypsy) family. Some parts were so terribly sad (abuse and rape) but the author tell his story with so much humor at times that it's hard to get the full emotion of all the horrible things that happened in his life. I enjoyed the story and it was a very quick read.

By the way, the author is on twitter and is ridiculously funny in real life (well I mean via. the interwebs):
Couldn't put it down and would recommend it to anyone. There is undeniably another side to the life of many Romany Gypsy families, perhaps a more positive life for those who are not brought up with the violence and abuse Mikey and his family endured however this is the travelling life at it's darkest. I hasten to add this is not an existence exclusive to travellers however it is very brave of Mikey to break the mould and tell all.
This book is about Mikey a gypsy boy living with a father who wants him to be a boxer and bare knuckle fights, to be tough like all the other boys around him. Mikey, however, doesn’t live up to this fathers expectations and this more of a coming to age and life realizations for himself than a book about the gypsy culture. This does not mean that you still don’t get a vivid picture of what is going on in the culture during this time because you do and he does a really great job of painting a pict ...more
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