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I Belong to No One: One woman's true story of family violence, forced adoption and ultimate triumphant survival

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Rape, teen pregnancy, illegitimacy, domestic abuse - in 1970s Australia all were shameful secrets that trapped women in poverty, loss and ongoing emotional trauma. This is one woman's story of all she lost and how hard she fought to survive.

A teenager in the 1970s, Gwen Wilson grew up in Western Sydney. It was a tough childhood. Illegitimate, fatherless - her mother in an
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Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published June 30th 2015 by Hachette Australia (first published January 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Rosie
Gwen Wilson tells her story about growing up in a family that faced adversity on many different levels. The book explores many issues, including growing up with a parent who has a severe mental illness, the stigma associated with being a single mother, family violence, the lack of support available, forced adoption and the inequality that women faced.

I am thankful to Gwen for sharing her story. I learnt a lot about what it was like for a woman living in Australia during the 1970s and most impor
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Karen O'Brien-Hall
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rape, teen pregnancy, illegitimacy, domestic abuse – in 1970s Australia all were shameful secrets that trapped women in poverty, loss and ongoing emotional trauma.

I Belong to No One is Gwen Wilson’s story of all she lost and how hard she fought to survive. She suffered all these horrors but went on to become a successful happy woman.

Gwen was illegitimate in a time when illegitimacy carried a stigma. She grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs without a father and virtually wi
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Sandra Danby
This is a brave book, a memoir written by an author knowing that she may be criticised, knowing that readers may disapprove, but having the courage to write it anyway. To say ‘This is me, this is what I did when I was a teenager’.
Gwen Wilson had a tough start in life. Her father was not in her life, in fact in later years she discovers that her father was a completely different man from the one she thought he was. Instead she grows up with her mother and half-brother Steve. Her mother woul
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Zelda
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could really relate to Gwen's story on many levels. Her fractured and dysfunctional childhood, due to an absent father, and a mother who was battling with mental illness. She was very fortunate though that some of her neighbours, family friends, and relatives would often step in and take care of Gwen during her mother's many hospitalizations. Her older brother takes the role of "man of the house" a bit too literally, and is often too harsh with discipline. Teen pregnancy and marriage to an unc ...more
Joan
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. A harrowing story of a girl growing up in a disfunctional family and being made to make adult decisions well before she was emotionally capable. She was fortunate to have Kulpie, Auntie Myra and other neighbourhood people there to give her support and some stability in her unusual childhood. Her mother's mental illness left her unable to be there for her children. Highly rebellious teenage years lead to one disaster after another. It was upsetting to ...more
Deb Bodinnar
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a teenager during the 70's also so I found this story very interesting. Growing up in those years I never really knew just how "unwed mothers" were thought and treated. Makes you aware of how far we have come in these matters.
Domestic violence is a terrible crime, one that takes more lives than it should. For someone to speak out about their experiences would be very hard, I would imagine, but hopefully by Gwen sharing her story, someone in an abusive relationship may take on her courage,
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♠️♥️Amy♦️♣️
I am reviewing this book as received in a goodreads give away. Thanks Goodreads!

OK 4.5 stars, Goodreads really needs to get that half star button sorted.

Writing reviews for non fiction books can always be a bit hard, you can not say you don't like a character or the way the way the landscape is because, well, they are real.

I started reading this book knowing I was going to cry. A lot. To be honest, writing this review was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Gwen is such a stro
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Lesley Lynch
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished reading this book and was very moved by this story. It must of taken a great deal of courage to write about such traumatic episodes in this life. We have come a long way since the seventies and still have a lot more to improve. Far too much Domestic Violence still exists in Australia. Gwen's story helps us to remember that in the not so distant past our society showed very little compassion for mental illness or single mothers or struggling families. Thank you Gwen Wilson fo ...more
Kathy
This is an incredibly readable, highly engaging and inspirational autobiography. It follows the story of a woman from early childhood into adulthood, and is addictively readable while dealing with challenging and confronting stories. Wilson has a wonderful writing story, reading like a fiction but absolutely fact. Thoroughly recommend.

I received this as a good reads 1st read in exchange for honest feedback.
Rania T
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Australian society has surely come a long way from the "blame it on the woman era" of the 50's, 60's and 70's. Gwen Wilson paints an honest picture of her tough upbringing in Sydney's West, but ultimately overcomes adversity and learns a lot from life. Moreover, this book also provides some insight into this country's forced adoption period, that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologised for.
Justine
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english
Gwen's story was an eye opener on women's conditions in Australia of the 60s - 70s. Telling the story of such a troubled youth requires courage and the author took care to measure her words. While she takes the role of the victim in various occasions, I would not dare cast a judgment on her decisions and lack of knowledge at the time. A good read, yet distressing at the same time.
Danielle
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
Gwen Wilson has told her story despite the torment and trouble she was face with. This is a truly touching and eye opening story that shares the truth of the 1960s and 70s for young, unwed mothers in Australia. Amazing - a real page turner.
Caitlin
Fantastic read. Written beautifully with honesty and truth. A must read for young women so they can see how hard their mothers and grandmothers fought for their rights.
Madeleine Black
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a heartbreaking book which made me so angry at the way women were treated in Australia in the 1970's. Gwen Wilson
has experienced so much trauma in her life and we follow her story in this heartbreakingly honest memoir of rape, domestic abuse, forced adoption and most of all the shame that she carried around. It is hard to read in places but it feels like the telling of her story is what helped her too. She is an incredible woman to have come through all that she did and it is ultimate
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Mherralahotmail.Com
Her own childhood was difficult, horrible, poor, lacked guidance, ...but in this autobiographical genre, I've read far sadder and more desolate stories. I'm not trying to say 'it wasn't harrowing enough', I'm just saying there's almost no basis for a novel here... as her sad start in life can be found in anyone's family history somewhere / somehow... I would argue.


And also: Gwen did tell of many people in this book who were on the periphery to help her ... meals / couches to sleep on / old frie
...more
Natasha Mairs
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-life
This book tells the story of Gwen. She lives in a poor part of Australia.

She tells how her and her older brother had to cope with their mum's mental health problems. Their mum was in and out of hospitals and Gwen was often cared for by her aunt or her mum's friends. Later as a teenager she was raped by her boyfriends brother. Then in her late teens she has 2 children and her boyfriend starts to get physically and mental abusive.

She tells of her struggles with family life
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Kate Howarth
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of 'I BELONG TO NO ONE,’ piqued my curiosity. As a child, I often asked myself, 'who I am?'

The story opens at a time when women were little more than chattels, and families sacrificed their daughters, an unborn grandchildren, for the sake of ego and vanity.

People with, what is today, a treatable mental disorder, were locked away in asylums and spent their days weaving baskets or counting matchsticks.

From the start, Gwen had a weak hand dealt. She was fatherless, with a mother, who w
...more
Angela Free
Actually, she really irritated me. I was passed this book, it’s not my usual read, perhaps that’s why I’m not that enamoured by it. Yes, her story is quite sad, but there are people with a lot worse.
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
The vast inequality experienced by women living in Australian during the 1970’s is felt and portrayed deeply by Australian author Gwen Wilson in her biographical memoir I belong to no one. Wilson presents her reader with a heart rendering account of life growing up in 1970’s Sydney to a single mother suffering from mental illness. Wilson explains her life as a wayward teenager, raised intermittently by her older brother Stephen and other significant females in her life. Eventually Gwen marries a ...more
Rebecca
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book in audio format.
Set in Sydney and surrounds, She writes about the absent father, a mother who grew up an orphan, family secrets, the arrival of the families first fridge, of her school friends and the admission of her mother into a psychiatriac ward in a day when those patients were treated terribly, subject to extreme treatment modalities and mental conditions were explained by “nerves” in polite society. Some of the details surrounding her mother, father and other rela
...more
Gayle
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-challenge
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Gwen Wilson started writing her memoir in her fifties. Essentially self-educated, Gwen worked as a motel receptionist, dental nurse and switchboard operator until at nineteen, in the exciting days of the pre-container era, a chance opportunity saw her land a role in customs clearance on the male-dominated Port Adelaide waterfront. A stable marriage and successful career in shipping and logistics i ...more