Just a boy - Richard McCann

First, Richard McCann starts off with his debut book - Just a Boy, about his stolen childhood, his mother being the first victim of the yorkshire ripper

This is the true story of a small boy, just five years old, who woke up one October morning to discover his mother was gone. And it is the story of how the murder of one woman can ruin a family and trigger decades of deprivation and abuse.

After their mother became the first victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, Richard McCann and his sisters' lives fell apart.

They were beaten and abused through their childhood until they began to expect nothing more than pain from life. Until one day, the young man that Richard had become decided that his life didn't have to be this way.
The Richard, suprisingly comes out with a follow up - The Boy Grows up. This continues from where his debut book left off, however, it focuses more on his adult life and his sister's. trying to save her from becoming more of an alcoholic and fighting for his family to be at peace one again.

Richard McCann's account of his childhood became a massive number 1 bestseller. In it he told the harrowing story of how he and his sisters were left motherless when the Yorkshire Ripper killed his first victim, Richard's mother Wilma McCann. "Just A Boy" was praised for its unflinching and unself-pitying account of a neglected childhood at the hands of an abusive father and uncaring authorities. "The Boy Grows Up" is an account of how Richard used the success of "Just A Boy" to try and save his sister, and of his attempts to make sense of his past whilst learning more about the effects of traumatic childhoods and loss. He sets out on a journey putting to good use his experiences, he contacts other families effected by the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, as well as writing to him himself. He returns to prison as a volunteer, he discovers more about his mother's past, begins university life and works with young offenders as well as becoming an inspirational speaker: In The Boy Grows Up Richard becomes a family man and finally finds true happiness.
I found both books a good read and couldn't put them down. What is it about one person's real life tradegy that makes us compeled to carry on reading? This is as true to life as you may get and the step by step accounts of what happens in both, soon hits home.

You can read more or even purchase these books on Richard's site;

Richard McCann.

I have actually spoken to Richard McCann, just over a year ago, he seems a lovely fella.
I interviewed Richard for a magazine series I wrote about people who survived personal tragedy (other subjects included Simon Weston & Chris Moon - ex-Army, cleared a landmine by standing on it).

Whilst I'm not a huge fan of the current spat of childhood abuse books, I found Richard to be a really nice guy who had truly been through the mill. And that he had been involved in such an incredible story as the "Ripper" really made his own account more readable.

If you like "real-life survivors" type books, I'd really recommend Chris Moon's book, "One Step Beyond"


War Hero
I haven't read the book, and to be honest it's not my sort of thing, however my son (ADHD, disruptive when he was younger, couldn't sit down and watch a bloody cartoon from beginning to end!) read Dave Peltzer's books: A child called It, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave, he sat and read all 3 back to back and they really changed his outlook on life, he realised at the tender age of 15 that he wasn't so hard done by, I'd go as far as to say these books helped him grow up.

Anything that makes my son sit and read must be enthralling, in fact I'm going to the bookcase now, maybe I've discovered my next read...........................


War Hero
sgtpepperband said:
ADHD (or 'naughty' as it as called when I was a kid...) :lol:
There was a time I would have agreed with you, having been through it I now know different. That being said I can probably agree there are naughty kids whose parents want a label for them that isn't just naughty.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Likewise, I am not a fan of the "my life was crap" autobiographies but I was very affected by "The Kid" by Kevin Lewis. It shows that there is a definite connection between a neglected childhood can create difficulties in later life; many of the events were evocative of my own upbringing.

The author continues with his adult life and how he resolved some of the issues with his parents in the follow-up "The Kid Moves On".

Recommended to anyone who thinks their life is crap - I don't want people to gloat at someone elses misfortunes, but these books show that something positive can come from the darkest of places.
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