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Gypsy Boy: One Boy's Struggle to Escape from…

Gypsy Boy: One Boy's Struggle to Escape from a Secret World (2010)

by Mikey Walsh

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Review: Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh.

It’s an extremely bright and captivating story about a notoriously secretive and enigmatic race, told with some calm humor and passion, through an outstanding stylish narrative voice. The description Mikey captures of life in the camps, the Gypsy culture the characters that had a major impact on his life are stunning and vivid, and writing in few words a real sense of place as the reader visualizes the events as they unfold.

It’s an autobiographical story about a boy growing up as a Romany Gypsy during the nineteen eighties and nineties. Mikey’s life was like a rollercoaster ride of emotions; strengths and he never wallow in self-pity and became an ensuring adult man with a purpose. It’s about self determination, human power of the mind and soul. Walsh didn’t hesitate describing his childhood of horrendous physical, and sexual abuse while growing up and his trying to fit in with the demands of his culture and satisfy his father’s sense of honor. What Mikey went through and the feelings of hopelessness that he must have felt are unimaginable. Betrayal by the people who should have been looking after him is unforgivable. Mikey’s mother was an accomplice in the abuse as she did nothing about it and seemed to be ignorant and also ruled by her husband.

Mikey explains the Romany Gypsy community with some humor and frankness. As he writes about the culture of his people I realized that I really didn’t know much about The Romany Gypsies. I believe his story but I was not educated enough to understand his culture. In the book they came across as ignorant and isolated. Also I felt they were a group of people who could not integrate, who hold no value in education and are obsessed with money and material things, which most of their things were obtained by ripping off the non-gypsy community who they apparently despised.

However, the culture of this gypsy group was mainly obsessed with a level of violence and the honor of bare fist knuckle boxing. At the young age of three Mikey was introduced to this event by his father and received beatings after beatings when he lost a fight. Their custom is to fight anyone in their community or other gypsy’s communities who came faced to face with you and wanted to fight to honor their immediate family. Mikey never got to win a fight to honor his family so his father was very brutal towards him. His father even made him fight against his sister (who always won) just to make Mikey feel shame for all the community to see…

Mikey was a brave child and later became a respectable adult through laugh and tears. This is a story that the reader can sense the honesty and reality of Mikey’s words and praise his honor for surviving…..It left me with questions and answer evading my mind that I did some research on Gypsies and their culture. It was really intriguing to be educated past what I was taught about gypsy as I was growing up….The reader will acknowledge Romany Gypsy are human too…..

( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
A very harrowing read, showing how much harm it can do to force people to live up to expectations that aren't their own. I am amazed that Mikey Walsh has still managed to not hate his father and the culture he grew up in after all that happened to him. It was a long time since I was this touched by a book! ( )
  PetterKringberg | Dec 7, 2015 |
I wrote a review of this book when I read it in 2012. There followed a long discussion in which at least one point was that the gypsies did not enslave people for work (and sometimes to take their benefits) and that was sheer bias against them. I remembered that when I read this article today, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2280045/Family-millionaire-travellers-ja... and went to go back to the review to add the link.

But the book and the review and the discussion are all missing from My Books. I have no idea how or why and am very unhappy about it, but what to do? I wrote a Feedback comment and it was suggested I might have accidentally deleted the book myself. I can't see how, but I suppose it is a possibility. I wonder if anyone remembers the discussion? Or maybe I'm off with the fairies and imagined it.

I like writing reviews but what I like most of all is when a review engenders a really good discussion. To me that is the best thing of all about GR, discussing books with friends. Everyone is a friend when talking about books. I don't mean 'friends list' ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Brutal story of Mikey's life growing up in a Romany family in England. Beaten to a pulp by his father who wanted him to be a fighter, sexually abused by an uncle, this story was harrowing. Mikey ran away from home as a teen when he discovered he was gay and could not live in his environment. ( )
  coolmama | Aug 22, 2012 |
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 schooling and introduced early into adulthood as is the ways of his people, he manages to find only the occasional respite from his torturous upbringing until while still little more than a child he finds his way out with his first love, and this not with a woman or a fellow gipsy.

Mikey's story, reveals a lot about the Romany Gipsies once proud way of life, their contempt for other races and even other gypsies. It is both frank and very moving book, a book that is difficult to put down once one starts reading; highly recommended. ( )
  presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
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Not to be confused with "Gypsy Boy on the Run" (2011), the second volume of his memoirs.
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Mikey was born into a Romany Gypsy family. They lived in a closeted community, and little is known of 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 all too well. Growing up, he didn't go to school, he seldom mixed with non-Gypsies and the caravan became his world. Eventually Mikey was forced to make an agonising decision, to stay and keep secrets, or escape to find somewhere to belong. His father and grandfather were champion bareknuckle boxers in England's Gypsy community. But Mikey had no interest in fighting. He was proud of his heritage and loved his mother and sister, but as he grew older he came to realize he had a secret that would never be accepted: he was gay. This memoir reveals, for the first time, what life is really like among the Romany Gypsies. It is a culture apart, one that is equally more criminal and more puritanical than our own.… (more)

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