Book About Adoption, Trauma And Abuse
Book Reviews,  General

Book about adoption, trauma and abuse

Me. the Boy and the Monster is a powerful book about adoption, trauma and abuse. It is written by Cat McGill who reflects on these issues drawing on her experiences of parenting Tickle her adopted son and her birth daughter Fairy. The book is a clever mix of personal stories taken from Cat’s blog and really clear explanations of the impact of trauma on the brain and hence on behaviours. I have had to wait a few days before posting this review as it had quite an impact on me as an adopted person myself.

Me, The Boy And The Monster

The Author

Cat has a background in developmental psychology which equips her to translate some quite complex theories into relatively easy-to-understand language for the newcomer to such topics. Cat is also a mum to Fairy her daughter by birth who arrived first. Cat decided to adopt Tickle her son and over time has learned to get to know him and to confront challenges she may not have expected such as violent behaviours. Like many a parent, she has used blogging to process her thoughts and feelings. Via social media she has found a powerful adoption community who can offer vital support when it all seems too much as an adoptive parent.

Tickle and the Monster

Tickle is a little boy who had a bad start in life including various forms of abuse in his birth home. Cat did not know the full extent of the abuse against him when she adopted him and had to cope with distressing disclosures. Decisions had to be made about which authorities to involve and how as Tickle shared more of his past. The Monster refers to the entity inside of Tickle that tries to keep him safe. It is a concept developed by Cat to help herself and others to make sense of things when Tickle’s behaviour is challenging.

Topics covered in the book

There are some quite deep issues covered in the book but they are presented in ways that make them easy to understand. I need to return and read again in certain parts to fully grasp things but the language is not daunting. You will learn about dissociation, attachment and enabling emotional regulation. Although I think adopted parents may gain most from the book, I also think any parent can learn from some of the information on how the brain works. Cat shares some useful strategies to try when things go awry with your child too which as a birth parent I can see the sense in.

My overall impressions

In a way I feel I was the wrong person to review this book or at least on a first reading. I was born in 1968 the product of the Swinging Sixties and dance halls by all accounts. I spent many months in a Catholic Convent as my birth mum veered between having me adopted and not. I was fostered to my family in 1969 and the full adoption order went through in 1970. I have no evidence that I was abused so I find it difficult to compare myself with Tickle who has suffered so much. And yet I know I have struggled over the years so keen to work out my identity and so fearful of people in all sorts of situations. I am hard to get close to and I am ever vigilant almost expecting to be hurt. That has eased over the years of course but remains a part of who I am. Cat’s book helped me understand myself better and to forgive myself for being quite so weird. If I take Kate out of the equation and just see a little girl whose needs were not met as a baby, it all makes absolute sense. My late Dad once gave me a great gift by saying “Over the years I have worked out there will always be a void in you and whatever me and your Mam did we could not fill it”. That sounds terribly sad but it gave me peace in a funny sort of way. I have emailed the author about all this and she is incredibly generous-spirited and has shared some resources for me to investigate further.

What I can say is that I highly recommend this book about adoption, trauma and abuse.. Some inspirational people like my parents, Andrea who knows who she is and Cat (who would not accept that about themselves) go further than most of us in giving a child or children in need a new opportunity. I hope anyone parent or not reading this blog would want the best for all children and I reckon we can all do this better in our families, friendship groups and society as a whole if we understand children generally better and especially those who carry trauma.

I usually give the books a review a score. I am not going to do this today. This book is more important than that.

Can you recommend a book on adoption, trauma and abuse?

You might enjoy my review of a children’s book on adoption called The Blanket Bears.



Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


  • Batmom85

    Wow, this review was so raw, open, and real. Seems like you and the character really endured a lot. I don’t know if I will read this book, seems a little heavier than my liking for literature but it does seem like a really good book. Thank you sharing so much. Your sharing and the way you write, really drew me further into the post. You’re a gifted storyteller.

  • Acorn Books

    This is a really well thought out review and the book sounds very interesting. It’s great to hear that the author is so knowledgeable on the subject and willing to support readers. I’m glad the book has helped you in a way too. #Readwithme

  • Mrs Mummy Harris

    This sounds like a book that’s had a lasting effect on you. I think its a great concept to highlight what children who’ve suffered trauma could be going through and the after effects. Such a hard topic to cover but sounds like something you’ve connected with. Also, what your Dad said was very honest, it’s like they accepted the fact but it didn’t mean they didnt love you any less; but like they understood your situation and was letting you know that its ok to feel how you do.
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #Triumphanttales. I hope to see you back next week.

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