The true story of an abused childhood, of shocking brutality and life as the daughter of notorious serial killer, and master manipulator, Rose West.
You’re 21-years-old. Police arrive on the doorstep of your house, 25 Cromwell Street, with a warrant to search the garden for the remains of your older sister you didn’t know was dead. Bones are found and they are from more than one body. And so the nightmare begins. You are the daughter of Fred and Rose West.
‘Mae, I mean this … I’m not a good person and I let all you children down …’ Rose West, HM PRISON DURHAM
It has taken over 20 years for Mae West to find the perspective and strength to tell her remarkable story: one of an abusive, violent childhood, of her serial killer parents and how she has rebuilt her life in the shadow of their terrible crimes.
Through her own memories, research and the letters her mother wrote to her from prison, Mae shares her emotionally powerful account of her life as a West. From a toddler locked in the deathly basement to a teen fighting off the sexual advances of her father, Mae’s story is one of survival. It also answers the questions: how do you come to terms with knowing your childhood bedroom was a graveyard? How do you accept the fact your parents sexually tortured, murdered and dismembered young women? How do you become a mother yourself when you’re haunted by the knowledge that your own mother was a monster? Why were you spared and how do you escape the nightmare?
You know, I find true crime that’s do do with serial killers intriguing and I ‘enjoy’ (for lack of a better word) reading them. Have since I was 13. This is the second biography of a serial killers child that I’ve read in the past month, and it’s been a fantastic read. Yes, we all know who Fred and Rose West are and what they were accussed and convicted of, but I find knowing about their family just as intriguing. This story was just as heartbreaking as Kerrie Rawson’s, although where Kerri had a relatively ‘normal’ childhood, Mae (formerly May June West, I know how could a mother do that to her daughter) was far different. Subjected to horrific physical, sexual, and mental abuse; although it was heartbreaking to read, I found it fascinating to learn just how wicked Fred and Rose were.
But you also learned about Fred and Rose’s childhood, and it was an equally horrific. How do you expect to severely traumatised children to grow up and not repeat what they grew up in? I loath what those two grew up and did, but I can understand how that may of come to place given their awful upbringing.
I liked the way this book was set out, with little snippets from Rose, who seemed to be in extreme denial. At times I almost believed that she was innocent, just like Mae did. I have to admit I’m surprised at the support that she gave her mother after finding out what she did. But then I’m not surprised. She’s suffered years of trauma at the hands of her own parents. It’s not as simple as just not loving them, when you’ve grown up praying or wishing that they were different. Everyday you think it will be different, but everyday it’s the same. But that just doesn’t go away when you’re a child. Sadly enough, it lasts into adulthood as well. Although you may come to the realisation that you won’t ever get the love and affection that you’ve craved for your entire life, that yearning doesn’t every truly go away, you just learn to deal with it. So to the lay person, you might find you’re annoyed at Mae for half of the book. But just bare in mind, we could never possibly understand what it’s like to be in her situation. It’s uncomprehendable. Despite my work as a psychologist, stories like this never get old. It’s always like reading something for the first time, because every experience is different. No human and their feelings/emotions/behaviours are the same. I guess that’s why I love what I do.
This story doesn’t focus on the murdered victims. It’s a focus on a personal experience of a living victim, who’s life has forever changed. Someone who had no part in any of what happened to her, but lives with the guilt and shame for as long as she lives. Often, family members of serial killers are forgotten, or equally blamed. When really, they’re just another victim. Much strength and love to Mae and her siblings. I hope that they’re seeking the proper psychological help, and have the supports that they need and deserve. May they live the life they’ve deserved all along.
I rated Love alway, Mum: 5/5 stars