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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just amazing!
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...
Published on December 18, 2007 by Violet Dream

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Depressing..
I find myself wondering if I was reading the same book as most of the other reviewers. They all seem to be talking about Martha's optimism and resourcefulness and determination and strong personality.

What I read was a book which seemed to be trying to jump on the "Angela's Ashes" bandwagon with another tale of the miseries of life among the poor in Ireland a...
Published 17 months ago by Readz Alot


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just amazing!, December 18, 2007
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Memory of Colleen F. Anthony, January 24, 2009
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martha Will Leave You Speechless, January 19, 2013
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. She finally gave up bothering me about it. I finished it in three days. I could have finished it in one day but I was continually being disturbed, as I mentioned.

The story is about little Martha, a young girl in Dublin born to a 16 year old unwed mother. As life goes on, her mother meets Jackser, an evil, paranoid man who terrorized Martha and her siblings, subjecting them to violent fits of rage...and Martha to sexual abuse, both by himself and to other men willing to pay him for the "use" of her, hence the title. It is disgusting to see the cruelty and deplorable conditions Martha and her younger siblings are subjected to on a regular basis. This book will leave you desperately searching for something good to happen to this poor child. Some good things do happen to her, but sadly they are few and very far between. Somehow, though, Martha manages still to share this story with some humor in places. She will make you laugh and break your heart at the same time. Martha's story will leave you desperate to know more about what happens to her. Her gift for storytelling is superb, with details so vivid you feel like you're in the disgusting tenement room with her, cheering her on, trying to hold yourself back from beating the life out of Jackser. You can almost smell the filth of the rooms she lived in. Feel the sting of the cold and the pain from the hunger. It is difficult to take in all the horrendous things that happen, but will leave you speechless in the end. This book should be read widely. It brings a new light to the subject of child abuse, opening your eyes to the terrible things that can be done to innocent children.

Long story short, a MUST READ.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, March 10, 2009
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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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes, August 4, 2008
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, July 20, 2008
What a great book, very very sad. Can't recommend it enough, best book I have read in years.

Jackser yer a bollix.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ma' he sold me for a few cigarettes, February 10, 2009
When we all think that we are having a bad day, or there is nothing in the frig. to eat. Pick up this book "Ma' he sold me for a few cigarettes". The story about a little girl who is beaten, beaten and beaten some more by her Mothers boyfriend, put out into the streets at the age of 4-12 at all hours of the night with just an old torn dress on her back and no coat to keep warm. More dirt on her body then on the ground she walks on. Starving, sexually abused,and used as a go-for. She just wants to be loved, and with all she endures, she is the ONLY ONE who shows love and affection to her younger brothers and sisters. This book is a MUST READ!!. A true story of survival and courage. You will turn the pages in discuss, but it will make you stand up and applaud this little girl for her courage. My heart goes out to Martha Long. You should be awarded the Purple Heart. TWO THUMBS UP
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Depressing.., August 15, 2013
This review is from: Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes: A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s (Hardcover)
I find myself wondering if I was reading the same book as most of the other reviewers. They all seem to be talking about Martha's optimism and resourcefulness and determination and strong personality.

What I read was a book which seemed to be trying to jump on the "Angela's Ashes" bandwagon with another tale of the miseries of life among the poor in Ireland a generation or two ago. But this book lacks what made "Angela's Ashes" so appealing -- good writing, strong characters and, most important, humor. In McCourt's writing, you could see that however tough things were, he was able to find humor in the situation, and the family had a strong sense of togetherness which held them through those tough times.

From Martha, however, what we get is page after page of relentless misery and abuse and torment and lice and dirt. We get repetitive descriptions of hairy backsides and being thrown across the room. While we meet, once in a blue moon, a kind person (a generous nun, a fellow patient in the hospital where Martha goes for treatment of raging head-lice, a neighbor who takes them in whe her mother is hospitalized after a beating from her boyfriend) -- two pages later that kind person is gone from the story, and we're back to a neglectful, mentally ill mother popping out baby after baby, an abusive stepfather, the hateful nuns who teach in school, and her cruel classmates ... (the few times Martha actually attends school) and Martha, struggling alone to raise her half-siblings and earn money to feed the family by stealing and reselling butter.

It gets very hard to feel sorry for Martha's plight, when she refuses to take advantage of the opportunities to get OUT of the situation. (Her stepfather throws her out and puts her on a ferry to England .. she doesn't tell the policeman who finds her about the abuse ... and she is sent home again. She and her mother escape to England ... and they go home again. She is arrested for stealing butter, she lies about the theft so she will be allowed to go home again. (I understand that abused children do usually love their parents and may fear the unknown, but there is no evidence that Martha loves her parents, and there is certainly no sense of 'better the devil you know' in her situation, especially as she gets older. ANYTHING has to be better than what she has.)

Finally, the use of colloquial language and misspellings which are supposed to, I think, make the writing seem more 'natural' just make for very heavy sledding as I struggle through 'babby's' and 'windas' and 'goin' fer the messages.' Five year old Martha cannot spell. Adult Martha should be able to spell .. and so should her editors.

The book may have some voyeuristic appeal for those who enjoy the real-life horror of holocaust memoirs and true-crime. But it didn't work for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As sad and horrible as Martha's early life was, August 2, 2014
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As sad and horrible as Martha's early life was, I really enjoyed this book. Martha was a extremely smart and resourceful child. Her descriptions of the squalor and inhumane treatment she received from the adults around her made me want to rescue her from her horrible life. She must be a brave and strong person to have survived her upbringing. This was a hard book to put down. I'm anxiously waiting for the sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read., February 25, 2014
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I grew up in Dublin in the 40s and 50s. Love the Dublin phonetic descriptions. I am forever telling people here in the US how bad I had it as a child but my life was paradise compared the Marthas.
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Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes: A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s
Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes: A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s by Martha Long (Hardcover - November 13, 2012)
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