Helen Donohoe is a Londoner of Irish-Scottish parentage who studied politics and government at Manchester University and the LSE. She recently completed the MA in Creative Writing (Novels) at City University, London, winning the PFD Novel Writing Prize with Birdy Flynn. She was mentored by Sarah Waters.
She has twenty years experience of representing the powerless and invisible as a campaigner, lobbyist, volunteer and writer. In her last role as Director of Public Policy at Action for Children she led the successful campaign to establish emotional child neglect in criminal law. She is a highly experienced public speaker and media spokesperson with frequent appearances on BBC News, SKY News, ITN and BBC Radio including Women’s Hour. Her written work has ranged from peer-reviewed papers through to blogs for The Huffington Post and New Statesman. She is also the author of the young person’s book World Issues Today: Terrorism.
She is an Arsenal season ticket holder and has previously played football for West Ham United. She lives in north London.
Birdy Flynn is published by Oneworld Publications.
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BIRDY FLYNN by Helen Donohoe
Buy your copy here.
‘Birdy is a complex, compelling creation . . . A terrific debut.’ Sarah Waters
There is the secret of Birdy’s dead grandmother’s cat. How the boys tortured it and Birdy Flynn had to drown her in the river to stop her suffering. There’s the secret of Mrs. Cope, the popular teacher, who touched Birdy in the cupboard. The secret of the gypsy girl at school who Birdy likes, but she can’t tell anyone. Because Birdy’s other secret is that while she plays and fights as good at the boys, she is a girl, and she doesn’t always feel like a girl is supposed to.
Her beloved Irish mother has her own troubles, as does the rest of her rowdy family. So Birdy decides to do what she feels she has to – hold onto her secrets and try and become what others want, even if it means suffering, and the risk of losing herself.
In this luminescent, sad and funny portrayal of a girl growing up amid an imperfect family, Helen Donohoe has created a beautifully nuanced and deeply felt novel. Whatever their own story, every reader will recognize in Birdy their own struggle to find their place in the world.