Grace Williams Says it Loud

Grace Williams speaks only two words at a time. Are these the same words over and over? Or can she choose which two?

Her story, penned beautifully in Grace Williams Says it Loud1 by first-time author Emma Henderson was the topic for our recent Cardiff Neurology Book Club. It is a deeply heartfelt and passionate work of fiction based on a life in care of the author’s sister. It illustrates children’s care in a British mental institution in the second half of the 20th century and left us with several conflicting emotions.

Grace’s story begins in her early childhood: she has tongue-tie, develops poliomyelitis, needs a period in the iron lung and seems to have physical and mental developmental delay, leading to doctors advising her parents to ‘put her away’. Aged 11, she is taken to the Briar Mental Institute where she soon makes new friends. They, like her,…

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