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Ma he sold me for a fe...
Martha Long
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Ma he sold me for a few cigarettes (Ma... #1)

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Born a bastard to a teenage mother in the slums of 1950s Dublin, Martha has to be a fighter from the very start. As her mother moves from man to man, and more children follow, they live hand-to-mouth in squalid, freezing tenements, clothed in rags and forced to beg for food. But just when it seems things can't get any worse, her mother meets Jackser. Despite her trials, Ma ...more
Published (first published September 6th 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brittany Holland
I stumbled across this book by accident while searching for something to read to pass the time over my Christmas holiday. I came across a book with a little girl on the cover. The girl looked maybe 5 and was obviously poor judging from the clothes she was wearing and the dirt on her face. I saw only the first part of the title "Ma, He Sold Me For a Few Cigarettes." That was enough to draw me in. Without looking at another thing on the cover, I picked up the book and purchased it, along with a co ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Antigone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
This is the first of a seven-volume memoir known as the "Ma" series, depicting life at the poverty level in 1950s Dublin. What makes it startlingly unique is the voice of its author, Martha Long, who succeeds in capturing this landscape from the vantage of her seven year old eye. Open the cover, turn the first few pages and it becomes swiftly evident that we are listening to a child. She's a bright sprite in a gruesome circumstance, recounting her dangerous days in the patois of the Irish poor, ...more
Sharlene Smith
Oct 19, 2010 Sharlene Smith rated it it was amazing
I'm lost for words in writing this review...This was a heart stopping memoir that I will never forget. I take my hat off to Martha Long for having the courage to give her inner child a voice. I am inspired to do the same. Thank you Martha for your inspiration and strength.
Dec 18, 2015 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the single most difficult book I've ever read. I both loved it and hated it equally. Martha is fiercely determined and resilient, and her struggles and triumphs are both equally heart breaking. I have seen a lot of people write that they would love to see this as a movie, I can't imagine anything worse. I fear my heart and soul could not survive with the visual of her beautifully written trials.

This is the only book that I've ever read that weighed heavily on me both during and after r
Aug 27, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have given this book a 4* rating which should indicate I really liked it,I did find it compelling reading though at times very difficult to read, the trials and tribulations of one so young sits very hard on your mind for a long time afterwards, there is a sequal to this book but as yet I have not even bought it, as I will have to work myself up to reading it... It is hard to say you really enjoyed reading about a young child's misery but it is well worth a read if only to validate that child' ...more
Oct 29, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not your typical Irish misery porn, it is excellently expressed about the most tragic upbringing. Told without pity, this evokes much empathy and this to me is the greatest gift from excellent literature. Martha Long is a remarkable woman and writer.
Mar 25, 2013 Karyl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a terribly awful book to read, and one can only imagine how very difficult it was to live this life. The reader comes away with such a huge sense of compassion for Martha Long and everything she endured just to survive her childhood. It's difficult to keep going, to read how she was beaten and starved and deprived of simple things like love and affection, and then to read of the assaults perpetrated upon men both known and strange to her. No person, let alone a child who cannot protect hers ...more
Dundee Library
Martha Long retells the story of her horrific childhood in 1950's Dublin, Ireland. The title sums the story up fairly well. Martha's mother appears to have serious emotional problems and allows her husband, Martha's stepfather, to brutalize Martha and her siblings. Although the book was a hard read at times, I kept focusing on the fact that Martha wrote it first as a private journal of her life in order to "rid myself of the voice of the little girl I had once been". The voice of the girl contin ...more
A very disturbing book. Makes me want to appreciate my life, country and family. And would love to give Martha's mom a big slap!
Dec 29, 2013 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a shocking, horrifying account of impoverished Martha Long and makes short work of ensuring the reader is truly swept into Martha's tragic world of poverty and abuse.
Whilst an engrossing read, it does dawdle on and could benefit from a large section being cut out of it. I was shocked by each account Martha tells, but unfortunately grew tired of chapter after chapter following the same line: Jakcser abuses Martha, makes her get the messages, Ma looks empty and neglects Martha, she w
Emily Wiersma
Jun 17, 2013 Emily Wiersma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the saddest and most heartbreaking memoirs I have ever read. Martha is a young child growing up in Dublin, Ireland in the 50's. She is beaten and molested by her stepdad while her mother does nothing and just keeps popping out more babies. They also force her to steal to support the entire family which consists of the six children and the parents. Her stepdad also sells Martha to another man so he can get some cigarettes. Through it all though, we see Martha use her brains and co ...more
Debbie Henderson
May 24, 2015 Debbie Henderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
What can I say? This is a heart wrenching memoir and sadly I think it's not the only tale of its kind from that era. I applaud Martha for having the courage to write the book which documents her struggle to survive a childhood that is truly horrendous in its various abuses. Told from the perspective of her inner child, the language can be difficult until you get used to it but the story is difficult to put down. I look forward to reading the sequel
Verna Seal
Aug 09, 2015 Verna Seal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very difficult read but well written. The forward by Alice Walker is powerful. "Reading this startling testament to one child's valiant attempts to live until the age of sixteen (four years to go) is a worthy reminder that we can do better as adults if we turn to embrace the children who are suffering, anywhere on earth, who are coming toward us, their numbers are increasing daily, for help."
Aug 04, 2009 Love rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on the fence weather I liked this one or not. I did not really like her style. I find it very hard to believe just about every man this girl ran into was such a pig! Is there really this many men after children? Why would her mother just ignore things of such deplorable men? I hate how she does not end the story in this very large book. That if you want to know what happened to her you must sit through another long book to find out.The cover says "A heart rending memoir that will both horri ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Sherry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was tough to get through because of the subject matter. This poor girl goes through the most terrible childhood, and I'm not sure how she was able to stay with her Mom and boyfriend all that time. I wanted to give it a higher rating but it jut dragged on and on. Horrible story after horrible story, and I almost started to become numb to them. I was dying to hear about the years after this book ended. The book was way too long and somehow still left out pertinent information. I googled ...more
May 15, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book four stars because once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It sucks the reader in with such force that you can't help but continue reading even as you want to stop. It is a horrifying depiction of what true poverty looks like - the kind we aren't familiar with and have almost never experienced in our country (apart from Appalachia anyway). This is not a book for the faint of heart - it's like Frank McCourt's memoirs but written in the dialect of the author's childhood ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Pbwritr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A heartbreaking tale.

It's nearly impossible to imagine that adults could be so cruel. Martha has more pluck and courage than imaginable. From the age of four, she is charged by her derelict mother to care for her younger siblings, raped by her unofficial stepfather and his friends and other men, made to steal to support the family, put in orphanages, left alone sick in hospital, sent alone at age 10 to London from Dublin with no money and no idea of what to do or where to go. She is viciously be
Dawn Finn scannell
Absolutely the most amazing but sad book, Martha has you laughing 1 minute crying the next. I have had the pleasure of meeting this woman after 6 yrs of reading her story and she still has that unbreakable spirit and still a Dublin woman to the bone no airs or graces. "Life is a bowl of cherries"
Sep 04, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ahve only just started this but so far I love it. All I want to do is grab hold of her and give her the biggest cuddle, ok maybe wash her first. This book will move you.
Erica Gruidl
Dec 22, 2015 Erica Gruidl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story painted a terribly depressing picture of what Ireland in the 1950s was like for the poor. This book was eye opening and educational, it held my interest the entire way through, but it was so sad. I'm having difficulty rating it because there is a part of me that wishes I never read it and a larger part of me that is grateful I did. The characters are real and gritty. This book stuck with me for a long time. My recommendation - read it knowing that it's depressing, and find a funny, lig ...more
Brigetta Barone
Apr 09, 2014 Brigetta Barone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As hard as this book was to read, I still couldn't put it down. I can't recommend it highly enough. The author is a survivor, and tells her story masterfully.
Amanda Mattsson
Jul 22, 2014 Amanda Mattsson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last few days I've catch myself daydreaming about Martha as if she is a new friend of mine with a strong Irish accent, telling me about her abusive, unwanted childhood living in poverty in the 1950's in Dublin.

Martha has had a big impact on me and has left me feeling extremely grateful of the simple things in life.

Martha's story is long giving the readers an true sense of her ordeal from such a young age up until 13 years old. It was only once I had finished the book that I found out M
Elizabeth Farrar
I loved this book! Extremely sad. At first I thought I was reading about a very young girl's life in Dicken's' time! However Martha grew up in 1950s Dublin. Extreme poverty & appalling conditions for single mothers. No social welfare then. Martha showed such strength & persistence. Although people have commented that the events were very repetitive & detailed I think these accounts accentuated the terrible conditions she lived in. There are 6 more volumes in her life story - I don't ...more
Still in two minds whether to read the sequel or not but probably will when I see it.
The story is written in the voice of the young Martha, but once you get past the way she talks it is easy to read. It does not go in depth too much over her tragic memories, but you do know what is going on. I found it astounding the way her mother acted and accepted her life and the appalling living conditions, and any thoughts of cleanliness of any scale was not a consideration - how can people live like this?
Feb 18, 2015 Fi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say that I 'enjoyed' this book, in fact, I found it very harrowing; but I somehow felt that I owed it to the author to read right to the end - after all, she lived through it, all I had to do was stick with it for a few evenings. I would have liked to learn more about what became of her in later life - how long was she in the children's home? Did she catch up on her schooling? Get married? Have children of her own? I suppose what I really wanted to hear was that she found some peace & ...more
Charlotte Villette
Martha is a courageous young girl, who faces so many troubles that no one should ever have to face.
She was born to a 16 year old unwed mother, who hops from one bed to another with different abusive men. Martha's mother has very little motherly instincts in her, and Martha soon realises that she can't rely on her mother, especially when Martha is raped and because the man gave her money, her mother assumes that Martha done it willingly.
I found myself getting rather annoyed at her mother, since s
Dawn McCarthy
Mar 12, 2014 Dawn McCarthy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is truly heartbreaking. It takes a little while to get used to Martha's voice but once you do you are pretty engrossed in the story and she feels like an old friend telling you about her life. She really keeps the balance of telling you her story from a child's point of view while relating that she is a child forced to grow up too fast which is pretty difficult to pull off given she is writing this book as an adult. As she tells her story, you feel her anxiety and walk on the egg shell ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A harrowing memoir but one that also shows great strength of character on the part of the author. Writing in the child's voice was effective and reminded me of Frank McCourt's work, not in the style but in the use of the device. I'm intrigued to know more about Martha's life and hope to hear about a happier future for her siblings too. Along with the exceptional violence she describes, the everyday violence (e.g. between children) is also notable from a privileged and 21st-century perspective.
Helen Cargile
Feb 14, 2015 Helen Cargile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book greatly. Many of the words are written phonetically in Irish dialect, so it took a bit to figure out what the words meant. Once I did that, I sped through the book. This is not a pretty, feel good story. However, it's a great testimony to human spirit and the will to survive- and Martha lacked neither of these attributes. It ends rather suddenly but there is a follow-up book, so I'll be reading that soon. I must know what happens next in Martha's life!
Bianca Rose
Aug 14, 2015 Bianca Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Martha Long was born in Dublin in the early 1950s and still lives there today. She calls herself a ‘middle-aged matron’ and has successfully reared three children. The Bookseller described her as a ‘truly gifted storyteller’ & Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, compared her to Charles Dickens. Her seventh and final book in the bestselling Ma series will be published by Mainstream Publis ...more
More about Martha Long...

Other Books in the Series

Ma... (6 books)
  • Ma, I'm Gettin Meself a New Mammy
  • Ma, It's a Cold Aul Night an I'm Lookin for a Bed
  • Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World
  • Ma, I've Got Meself Locked Up in the Mad House
  • Ma, I've Reached for the Moon an I'm Hittin the Stars

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