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Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes: A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; Reprint edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609804147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609804145
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The destruction of our common humanity through the manipulation of imposed poverty, misogyny, alcoholism and drug abuse, is a major source of our misery, world-wide; and has been for a long time. Reading this startling testament to one child’s valiant attempts to live until the age of sixteen (four years to go!) is a worthy reminder that we can do better as adults if we turn to embrace the children who are suffering, anywhere on earth, who are coming toward us, their numbers increasing daily, for help."—Alice Walker

"Coming-of-age hardships skillfully recounted by way of the colloquial Irish tongue."—Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully written and packed with detail. Miraculously, Martha is attuned to the simple wonders of the world around her: a BBC radio music program, young nuns having a snowball fight. It's a world she is determined to become a part of just as soon as she is old enough to flee.”— The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“One thing readers will notice is the unexpected theme of courage and hope throughout this dark, heart-breaking tale. This story was one of the most unique, surprisingly inspiring memoirs available.”—Yahoo Voices

"Stands head and shoulders above everything else in the category . . . a remarkable personal and literary achievement for the author and an unforgettable experience for the reader."—Irish Independent 

"[Long's] story is unique in its rawness and its honesty. Entirely self-educated, she narrates her own life in a way which is both riveting and moving."—Greenock Telegraph

"A tale of strength, bravery and sheer determination of not letting life beat you."—Irish Post

"An ultimately uplifting story which salutes the strength of the human spirit."—Irish World


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Martha Long was born in Dublin, Ireland in the 1950s and still lives there today. She is the author of seven "Ma" books recounting her life from decade to decade, all of which have been bestsellers in the UK and Ireland. She calls herself a "middle-aged matron" and has successfully reared three children.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 53 customer reviews
A very sad and disturbing book.
J. Jarrell
You won't be able to put this book down (I read it one night until 6am).
Kitty S.
A true story of survival and courage.
Karen C. Morgan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Violet Dream on December 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a biography of a girl growing up with mother, step dad and small brothers and sisters. Step dad is abusive and drinks a lot. Mom swears at children, and does nothing much except staring into space. The only income the family has is social support, charity and Martha's brightness. Martha doesn't have anything (not even shoes) and no one takes care of her since very small, yet she manages not to give up and finds happiness in tiniest things we seldom notice, repeating to herself "I won't be like them, I'll be grand and respectable when I grow up". Her determination and sharp mind is amazing and I was greatly inspired. It's hard to believe she's so young, she's actually smarter than grownups. Really wish there was a sequel!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Passionate Reader VINE VOICE on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
As I turned each page of this haunting story I desperately seeked for a sign of compassion, love or a tender moment in this tragic little girls life. But it was not meant to be. There would be no hero in this book; there would be no one to scoop Martha's fragile beaten body up and show compassion. There would never be justice for the many adults who touched her life in more than one way. Yet I could not put the book down. I could not stop reading page after page the horror that beat this child down.

No one can image what it must have been like to wake each morning like this so that must have been the reason why I kept reading. I needed to understand what gave Martha the spirit to breathe one more day. More often than not I disliked her as much as the other horrible people in her life. Yet I felt if no one else in her life could show compassion the least I could do was to forgive her and try to understand that she was just surviving any way she could.

After reading this you are more than likely asking yourself why you should or would read this book. I asked myself that several times as I picked it up day after day. The best I can say is this child for all her shortfalls has a abominable spirit. Martha never stopped believing she was worth more than the life she was given. In times when we are all living with uncertainty this one little girl gave me hope and to find that in one of the most unlikely places, in the pages of a small tattered child's last breath was more powerful than anything else I have experienced in a while. I recommend you throw yourself into these pages and discover the spirit of Martha Long. You will not be the same because of her.

I dedicate this book to a special friend. Thank you Colleen F. Anthony for insisting I read your favorite book! I am just sorry we could not talk about it before you had to leave.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brittany H. on January 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I stumbled across this book by accident while searching for something to read to pass the time over my Christmas holiday. I came across a book with a little girl on the cover. The girl looked maybe 5 and was obviously poor judging from the clothes she was wearing and the dirt on her face. I saw only the first part of the title "Ma, He Sold Me For a Few Cigarettes." That was enough to draw me in. Without looking at another thing on the cover, I picked up the book and purchased it, along with a couple of magazines. I knew that I was headed for a boring 5 days staying with my parents for the holidays, and was glad to have some reading material to help make the time go faster.

I started reading the book almost as soon as I got home, eager to find out what this sad little girl on the cover's story was. Early in my reading, I kept picturing this poor girl living in turn of the century Dublin. I was picturing horses and buggies, I hadn't read anything about the book so I didn't know what to expect. I knew the story was the true life story of someone, but I assumed it was written by someone long dead and was re-released or something. Then after several pages, Martha referenced a film that was made in the 1950s. I stopped at that moment and thought, NO WAY. This was taking place in the '50s? No way! I closed the book and saw the obviously printed "A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s. It was true! This was all happening less than 60 years ago! I was floored!

I devoured the book. I couldn't put it down and was told on more than one occasion throughout my visit to my parents' house that I was being rude and to put that book down and come visit with my family. I couldn't! I explained to my mom about the book and that I had to finish it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kitty S. on March 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
You won't be able to put this book down (I read it one night until 6am). Martha, its heroine, is a child growing up in the slums of Dublin, brutally abused by her step-father and surrogate parent to her step-siblings. Her mother's own sense of self preservation is so prevailing that her own needs override any inclination to nurture or protect Martha. Somehow, Martha's strength of spirit and fabulous personality continually supersede all of the horror she undergoes - and this is the draw for reader. You continue to root for her through to the last page. Happily, I see that the sequel is out soon. Sign me up.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Sodhi on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
I saw this book in London at the local bookstore. Despite the streep prices in London, I made the purchase. I was glad that I did. A sad but great book. If one has the drive to get out of poverty and make somnething out of life, then this is the book to read. This young girl is amazing and a role model.
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