Publisher: Ebury Press
Publication Date: 18th July 2019
I used to follow Cash Carraway on Instagram so when Matt at Ebury Press got in touch to ask if I’d like a copy of Cash’s debut memoir Skint Estate, I knew I had to check it out.
I picked it up intending to have a flick through it and park it in the book trolley until closer to the publication date, however, once I’d started reading I just couldn’t put the book down.
What Cash has produced in Skint Estate is a real eye-opening, punch in the gut of a book, one that I feel everyone needs to read.
Cash takes us through her life as a single mum living way below the poverty line, from the moment she takes a pregnancy test in a faeces smeared train toilet, with a busted up face having fled her abusive partner, right through to securing the deal for her book.
Cash bursts into your brain with her straight talking, no-nonsense delivery of some of the most horrific and harrowing of times in her life. From having to work in a peep show whilst pregnant in order to save enough money for a deposit on a flat for when her daughter is born. To having to use food banks just to feed them both.
The total upheaval of Cash and her daughter, Biddy’s, lives every time they can’t afford to pay the extortionate London rents for pokey bedsit accommodation in ropey areas is both heartbreaking and massively frustrating.
Cash has to ask over 80 estate agents to help her find accommodation when landlords won’t accept single mothers on benefits. She gets so desperate that she even contemplates taking a windowless, electricity-less room in a man’s house which he offers for free, on the proviso that she sleeps in his bed with him for 3 or 4 nights a week.
Cash appears to fall on her feet at one stage when her gay ‘friend’ asks her to pose as his wife in order for him to remain in his father’s will. She lives in a lovely house, attends dinner parties, and even has the holy grail, an aga…..however she is kept on a tight leash by this man who has had a hold over her since she was in her teens. This man controls the purse strings and Cash’s freedom. When his father dies and he reneges on the deal, Cash finds herself trapped in a nightmare and trying desperately to escape.
When she does finally escape, it is back into a world of poverty and struggling yet again to find a roof to put safely over her beloved daughters head.
Cash has always enjoyed writing, and finally has a turn of good luck when she pens a play Refuge Woman and tours with it. This, together with the publication of her book, feels like a turning point for Cash. I really hope that it is.
There are so many poignant and heartbreaking moments in this book. Cash talks about how there was a time after her daughter was born where she was at rock bottom. She used to fantasise about how and where she could die. She knew that she couldn’t go through with making the choice of committing suicide. She knew she couldn’t make that step and intentionally leave her daughter behind. But what if there was an accident and she happened to die? Surely this would free her and maybe give her daughter a better life?
Cash has such an honest voice, sometimes brutally honest. Her delivery is hard hitting, sharp, witty and she has a dark sense of humour. She is straight up and pulls absolutely zero punches. I am loathe to use the word ‘unflinching’ because it seems so wanky but it really applies perfectly to Cash’s narrative in this case.
Do I think Cash and her delivery of her story will be for everyone? If I’m honest, no. However that’s just tough. Cash’s story needed to be told. And it needs to be told in her own inimitable way.
This is a book I feel an overwhelming urge to press into everyone’s hands. To go some way to opening peoples eyes about exactly what life is like living below the poverty line.
I have to be honest and say that I have read lots of things online surrounding Cash and her story, I don’t know Cash and I don’t know the people who choose to comment about her online. All I know is that I really really enjoyed reading Cash’s book and I can say no more or no less than that.
I would definitely recommend it.
Thank you to Matt at Ebury Books for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat x