Review of Shane Dunphy′s latest book

Will Mammy be Coming Back For Me?

The short answer is no, she won’t.

Another depressing read from former Child Protection Officer Shane Dunphy. This case is particularly horrific. A neglected, sexually abused and emotionally damaged toddler, Jason, causes a young Dunphy heartbreak during the first few years of his career.

Fifteen years later he comes back into the more experienced Dunphy’s life when he shows up unexpectedly at the Dunleavy House, Dunphy’s workplace, and assaults a staff member. Jason has grown into a vicious sexual abuser and a misplaced sense of loyalty and guilt at having failed in rehabilitating th. damaged toddler drag Dunphy back into Jason’s life.

As with Dunphy’s previous titles, I didn’t like this one. (Actually I don’t know why I continue to read them at this stage…) It’s a combination of things for me. Aside from the horrible subject matter it bothers me that, though all names and locations have been changed, these stories are based on real people. I find it hard to see how Dunphy could adequately relate his experience when it is necessary to alter time lines and character traits. I end up questioning which parts are real and which are a mishmash of numerous children he has worked with. Thus, the impact of the story is diminished. For me anyway, I’d like to hear what you guys think.

I’m not suggesting Dunphy fabricates the stories, by any means. What I’m saying is that I feel I’m not always getting a clear picture and I do think Dunphy tends to play up the tugging of the heart strings a little more than necessary. I enjoy hearing him interviewed on radio and I’m not disputing that he knows his stuff and obviously cares deeply for his work. It’s just that I feel when he writes he plays up the long-haired, guitar-toting, tough-but-kind stereotype a little too much. Less story-telling and simply more story would suffice.

Will Mammy be Coming Back For Me? by Shane Dunphy is published by Gill &MacMillan, out September 10th, €16.99.

15 Responses to “Review of Shane Dunphy′s latest book”

  1. patricia says:

    just read 3 of shanes books mind blowing

  2. ann nolan says:

    are you same shane dunphy who worked going round to see if people where intitled to the dole in dublin clonliffe ave area in if you are i would like to thank you for your your kindness if you get in touch i will explain house phone dublin 8364218

  3. jane phillips says:

    I too have a true story to tell but would love some to write it ..i would love to meet shane and tell him mine ….

  4. Daryl Ryan says:

    Hi All,
    just reading some of your comments there and i have to say from first hand experience,that Shane dunphy is absolutely epic, i am currently a student of Shane’s and i have to say the man is fantastic he can nearly read the books out load without looking at them, shanes witty smart sense of humor is infectious he really does no what he is talking about, shanes dress style is brilliant a combination of anecdotal tee-shirts blazers and jeans and in the words of the man himself i just don’t give a fuck,

    Shane dunphy is a legend

  5. Catherine says:

    I would like to say that I only actually found Shane’s books about 4 months ago….I came across “Hush little baby” at the library….

    I knew as soon as I was 2 or 3 chapters in that this was one special man with a gift….and I felt very much fortunate to be able to read his stories…

    I have now gone on to read every title he has written….and I can honestly say…each one was better than the next….yes…the content can be depressing…that can be said of reading similar stories in the newspapers every day….but what makes Shane’s stories different…is that they come from the heart…I like to hear about his thoughts and feelings as well as the children’s stories….it does give a more realistic view of events….

    In short….I don’t think Shane’s books can ever be classed as depressing…the word I would use to describe them is inspiring…I know they inspired me to want to be more like him….


  6. jackie , says:

    iv completely enjoyed the books iv read so far and look forward to many more

  7. Laura says:


    I have recently finished studying to work in a child care setting as i want to be there to help children progress and reach their full potential…I have read a few of Shane’s books and I have found them all deeply moving and sad to see how some children are treated. I am looking forward to reading the other books that Shane has writtern as I believe he is a great writter. I hope from reading these books it helps me to understand the way children are and that there are many different things that could be happening to make a child behave the way they do. I have very strong feelings about child abuse and one day I would like to help children regain their childhood as Shane does.

    I wish Shane all the best and look forward to other books in the future.

  8. amanda says:

    I have to say that I have read every book written by Shane Dunphy and have loved everyone. Although the books are of a sad story of some very unhappy children and families I have found them to be very informal and it has opened my eyes to how cruel some people can be to others. Working in social care has always interested me as I want to help those who need helping and to let them know that they are not alone and help is out there for them. Thanks Shane look forward to your next book and hope its out very soon. keep up the good work. :-)

  9. Hazel Moore says:

    i love all of shane’s books you can tell that they are all true to life. i have worked with children from difficult backgrounds in a school environment and know what some children go through. shanes books helped me to look deeper into what be the cause of their problems and understand them better. the child i mainly worked with has a tough background and with help of the books and what shane had experienced i was able to use it and the child i worked with eventually opened up and saw me as someone that was wanting to help instead of someone wanting to make his life harder. i am considering going into social work whne my youngest child starts school. social workers have a really ahrd time but some of them make a difference (hopefully i will too)
    my boys are buying me his new book for christmas. its been hard not to sneek a copy but i have managed.

    keep up the good work shane you inspire me

    • Jen says:

      Hi Hazel,
      Thanks for stopping by. I think it’s fantastic that you are so passionate about your job and wish you the very best in it. I know how great it can be to discover an author who seems to articulate your own experience clearly and I’m glad you have found that in Shane’s work.

  10. The Elegant One says:

    I’m delighted that Shane Dunphy replied to your review. I havent read the book or any of his books but now Im a little interested having read the review by Jen and reply from Shane the author. I’m an avid reader but not on the issue in the book. But I think I’ll branch out this time and buy a copy. I suppose I can get it in any bookshop. I’ll even write a comment when Im finished reading it if thats ok because I’d like to be honest and wouldnt like to hurt any feelings. Thanks another little project for the dark winter days.

  11. Jen says:

    Shane! How wonderful that you stopped by.
    You are more than welcome. I am happy to publish your response on the site and am delighted that you took the time to read the review.

    Reviewing is, naturally, a subjective business and as someone who has never written (let alone published) a book, I welcome varied viewpoints.

    I realise your work provides a valuable contribution to society and don’t doubt your commitment. My gripe is that I didn’t enjoy reading about it in this instance. It may be a style issue, it may be the tone … For me the biggest problem is that the truth needs to be adapted to protect identities. Is it a work of fiction or non-fiction? Books loosely “based on actual events” leave me feeling stranded in some sort of middle ground ☺

    To be honest Shane I think I’d quite like to hear more about your work and the experiences you have had, just in a different format. For instance should you be presenting a paper or taking part in a panel discussion I would be genuinely interested and delighted to attend in the audience.

    As a book reviewer however, this one just wasn’t for me.

  12. Shane Dunphy says:

    Hi Jen.
    Thanks for publshing your review, and taking the time to read the books despite your reservations. I always respect someone who voices their opinions when they have actually bothered to put in the commitment necessary to form an informed view. So, to respond to your worries – well, I’d like to say that everything that goes into the books is an absolute carbon copy of what actually happened, but needless to say, that would be being less than honest. The stories are all true: the basic facts are real and the rhythm of each account is accurate. Where possible I seek permission of the children or families involved, to ensure that we keep as close as possible to history. To protect identities, I change locations, genders sometimes, and timelines sometimes differ. Many people who have been written about contact me afterwards to thank me for telling their stories, and I have also been contacted by professionals who were so taken with various books, they believed, inaccurately, I was writing about their cases. So that shows that the books resonate with truth. I think the books have raised issues that were important, and have enlightened people to the realities of this kind of work. Does that mean that your concerns aren’t valid? Not at all. Dermot Bolger, the writer, raised similar issues after my first book, and Sue Leonard, the journalist, has also been outspoken about her feelings about my work. I can genuinely say that I have been as honest as I can be within in the parameters legality and the publishing industry permit. I want to thank those who have stayed with me, and to those who have taken a chance on the books, whether they liked them or not. And thanks to you, Jen, for the opportunity to respond on your site.

    • Catrina Laskey says:

      I absolutely love your books. Every time I start reading one I cannot put it down and every book is as good as the next. I have laughed, cried and gasped and your power to relate to all emotions is phenomenal.

      It’s great to see the passion you have for helping children and I find it very inspiring. You’ve also encouraged me to peruse a form of youth work, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but never took the leap.

      Thank you for the amazing work you do with children and for sharing your experiences.

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