The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile

    Set in a village in Ireland, ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile’ is Dunphy’s fourth novel, narrating his experiences as a childcare worker in ‘Little Scamps’, a crèche for children with special needs.

     

    When Dunphy starts working in Little Scamps he is met with complete chaos created by children who have never learned discipline and care workers who were short staffed and out of depth.

     

    Throughout the course of the year, Shane tries to shape and bring order to this motley group. Out of which emerges the stories of the children and the reasons for their problems.

     

    There is, however, one mystery child in this group, a tiny five year-old called Tammy who doesn’t speak a word. The journey of finding a way to communicate with her shapes the individual stories of all the little protagonists.

     

    Dunphy’s portrait of the children and other care workers come alive as we read. Though exasperating yet lovable, each character resembles someone we have known in our lives, depicting the poignant reality of families and relationships.

     

    Though the achievements of successful care might mean a happy ending, not all of Dunphy’s children become model individuals later in life. Some, whom will become our favourite characters, meet with the inevitable results of poverty and neglect.

     

    Shane Dunphy has been a childcare professional and social care tutor for the past 15 years. His writing is semi autobiographical and the stories he brings to his readers are real life experiences in the lives of social care personnel in Ireland.

     

    The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile, Shane Dunphy, Constable & Robinson, Out Now

     

    Reviewed by Amrita Dasgupta

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