Listen free for 30 days

My Name Is Why

Length: 5 hrs and 20 mins
5 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

At the age of 17, after a childhood in an fostered family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.  

Here Sissay recounts his life story. It is a story of neglect and determination. Misfortune and hope. Cruelty and triumph.  

Sissay reflects on a childhood in care, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation's best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.

©2019 Lemn Sissay (P)2019 Canongate Books Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    209
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    198
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    189
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Painful reading

I read this as an ex social worker. I am long since retired but hearing the lived experience of this boy was horrifying. I have no doubt I probably placed children in similar circumstances and only heard the adult voices explaining behaviours. And that is on top of having worked in a psychiatric hospital setting with the kind of brutalised men he speaks of. It should be required reading for everyone in the care sector - indeed perhaps it should be reread several times during a working life. In fact, perhaps it should be on GCSE reading lists!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A distant family member you have never met

I am a distant relative of the foster parents and was very keen to heard Lemns story as soon as this popped up. I particularly loved the short poems and the way in which Lemn tells his tale.

Unfortunately it’s not a particularly pleasant story but what I loved was to hear Lemns courage and his determination to be himself and to live according to his rules and not those imposed on him by various people who he came into contact with while growing up.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

Amazing insight in to the power of social services . Thank god for the occasional good SW . A sad story that needed to be told

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Lost for words,full of emotion.

So glad I listened to this heartbreaking book. It was brought to life by Lemn narrating his life and hearing him read his poetry. I wept at the sadness and brutal experience of the ‘care’ he was kept in and for his mother. I laughed at the warmth of his humour and intelligence. This story will stay with me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Social care incarceration seen through the eyes of a powerless child

Well done Lemn Sissay for surviving The Authorities! Every worker in the care and education sector should read his story. I can only pray that lessons have been learned from such accounts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

lemn

My word...I loved it.....so gut wrenching. that i cried out loud for him....His a survivor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JB
  • 19-09-19

A cautionary tale

Loved hearing this book, read by Lemn, not in the least because I work with homeless young people. Fantastic reminder all of things wrong with "the system", I shall be buying this book for all my staff to read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Makes me SO ANGRY

What strength of character does this man show! Though this is a very upsetting ‘history ‘ I hope its’ author has found some peace and love in this world x Lemn you are a credit to yourself - and to the woman who gave you life x

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

What an incredible, tenacious man

I listened to this book non stop from start to finish. Incredibly poignant. Triumph over adversity an cruelty. What a man.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening honesty... very refreshing.

Lem is unassuming. incredibly patient and tolerant. wise beyond his years and a student of Marly. completed in a single listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful