Read With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood by Kathy Dobson Online


Offering a glimpse into the culture of extreme poverty, this memoir is an insider’s view into a neighborhood then described as the toughest in Canada. Point St. Charles is an industrial slum in Montreal which is now in the process of gentrification, but during Kathy Dobson’s childhood, people moved for one of two reasons: their apartment was on fire or the rent was due. WhOffering a glimpse into the culture of extreme poverty, this memoir is an insider’s view into a neighborhood then described as the toughest in Canada. Point St. Charles is an industrial slum in Montreal which is now in the process of gentrification, but during Kathy Dobson’s childhood, people moved for one of two reasons: their apartment was on fire or the rent was due. When student social workers and medical students from McGill University invaded the Point in the 1970s, Kathy and her five sisters witnessed their mother transform from a defeated welfare recipient to an angry, confrontational community organizer who joined in the fight against a city that turned a blind eye on some of its most vulnerable citizens. When her mother won the right for Kathy and her two older sisters to attend schools in one of Montreal’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Kathy was thrown into a foreign world with a completely different set of rules that she didn't know—leading to disastrous results. This compelling, coming-of-age story documents a time of great social change in Montreal and reveals the workings of an educational system trying to deal with disadvantaged children....

Title : With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781550653236
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood Reviews

  • Brent
    2019-01-17 17:22

    "With a Closed Fist" gives us an honest and intensely personal look at a fascinating childhood story. Kathy's view of the world doesn't attempt to be objective or all encompassing, but shows us the circumstances as they were to a young girl growing up in them, including poverty, family, religion, and neighborhood feuds. Particularly fascinating is the subtle growth of the narrator from beginning to end. This is not a happily ever after type story, but one where the circumstances have consequences and while they can be worked with, the solutions are not easy. "You can take the girl out of the Point, but you can't take the Point out of the girl..." This presents its own kind of gratification however, as the solutions finally arrived at are more believable and lasting. The book is full of fascinating characters whose distinctive flaws and strengths are always viewed with a sense of family. A great invitation to a world I didn't anything about, but now feel as if I've visited.

  • Ruth
    2018-12-29 22:25

    This story made me a little less cocky about being Canadian (and living in the United States). It showed me a part of my country that I don't like to think exists; I know better. In the spirit of Angela's Ashes and Glass Castles, With a Closed Fist tells what would otherwise horrifying story from the eyes of a child without the judgements we adults would place on it. It is a story of resilience and courage, of hope and determination. I won't say I'll never complain about my less than ideal childhood, but not in front Kathy Dobson!My only complaint is there is no epilogue, I wanted to scream "AND.....??" on the last page. What happens to them? I know Kathy made it out and now can pass for a completely normal mother and woman, quite a feat, but what of the rest?? Perhaps that is the next book..

  • Andrew Porteus
    2019-01-15 20:08

    A powerful memoir of a young girl's experience growing up in a tough Montreal neighbourhood. Having grown up in a quiet suburb I found it hard to imagine the gritty reality that the author and her sisters lived in - from lack of food to midnight changes of address to the complex family relationships that were part and parcel of everyday life. A tantalizing glimpse is given as to how the author managed to get out of the cycle of poverty and violence - a further book on the changes she made to her life would be welcomed.

  • Louise
    2019-01-07 15:29

    Surprises all the way through this memoir -- it's a different world to the one I grew up in. A neighbourhood I might have driven through, a little scared, a little curious, but to really know how it works, you need to ask a child. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, full of energy, and of the little child views, perceptions, misconceptions and start reality that was Point St. Charles in the '70s.

  • Marie
    2019-01-16 14:12

    With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neightbourhood was a great book! It is a story of Kathy Dobson and her family growing up in Point St. Charles. Even though Kathy had a rough life her sense of humour came through in this book. I would recommend this book to my fellow readers.

  • Sylvia
    2018-12-22 21:10

    Kathy’s memoir is a very personal story and very different from my own having also gown up in “The Point”. In fact, our families lived, for a time, in close proximity and I taught at Lorne School. Nora, one of Kathy’s sisters, was a student in my grade 3 class. We have in recent years been in touch through the magic of Facebook. One thing for certain is that growing up in “The Point” makes a person prepared for anything. And, those of us who moved away from the neighborhood have a strong affection for and pride in our roots.

  • Christina Spooner
    2019-01-10 14:16

    Being from Montreal, where my Nanny and mom were raised, this book shed some light into what it was like for them growing up in Montreal. Wasn't all French either like most people think. And the swearing; like it was just part of the language.. explains so much now. Lol #tabernac I like how her story unfolded, highlighting the culture of poverty and abuse and the safety and strength she found in her sisters.

  • John
    2018-12-22 19:23

    Based on the style and organization of this book, it's clear the author had a good editor. It reads like a jumble of memories selectively pasted together to form a narrative out of what it basically a normal life. I appreciated the fact that not much was made of the abuse, not because it's not an important issue, but because instead of victimising herself, the author showed that she got through, a testament to her strength. The abusers don't play much of a role, and that's good: they deserve to be forgotten. Given this, it's odd that the one uncle is glorified. But he only beats his wife, he doesn't abuse children. That's the paradigm the author is living in! That does shock a bit. As for the poverty, perhaps it is again the understatedness of it, but I was not that impressed with it, that is to say, the author makes it seem not so bad. I think perhaps we overstate the effect of poverty on children: they will play and fight and grow in any conditions. Finally, as for her "escape" it's interesting to note the era in which she lived: it was true at that time that anyone with a high school diploma could go to university. Now, as much as the universities are watered down, it is much more competitive to get in. A function of more people applying, not necessarily smarter people. So perhaps we shouldn't feel bad or sorry for the poor of the 1970s, but the poor of today, who are much more left without means to escape their situation. In any case, a compelling read. The good parts are under-dramatised, a seemingly innocent buildungsroman, the worst parts are overstated, though perhaps this comes more from reviewers who cry about what a horrible life it was she lived, and how brave she was. The author makes no such claims: she just tells her story.

  • Nick Rudzicz
    2019-01-03 21:17

    1) ''I've always lived in fear of going to the bathroom. I know if I sit on the toilet for more than a couple of minutes, I risk having a rat crawl up the pipes and bite me on the ass. I stomp my feet, peeing as quickly as possible while singing 'The Unicorn Song' so loudly my mom yells at me to stop yelling.''2) ''Every Victoria Day the Point almost burns to the ground. People go crazy with firecrackers, sparklers, burning shitbags, and homemade firebombs. Anyone who owns a car doesn't leave it on the street, because they know it'll get torched or at least turned over. If they can't hide their car or drive it out of the Point and leave it somewhere safe, they surround it with friends and family members after sunset.''3) '''She took advantage,' says Mom, 'and she of all people should know better, should know the impact her selfish actions would have on everything we've all been working on together here for years now. She should be shot. Or at least get her stupid ass kicked back to Westmount.'Mom says this social worker knew coming into the Point that the people she'd be working with don't have any power.'These are people without a voice, people who already lack confidence in the system.'Mrs. Cooper is really upset, especially since her husband is insisting that he and the social worker are in love. When the social worker dumps him a couple of weeks later, all the mothers are thrilled.'I hope Anita doesn't take him back,' says Mom on the phone. 'She'd be a fucking idiot to let him back in the door.'But I can hear the lie in her voice. Point women always take their men back.''

  • Petra
    2018-12-28 22:16

    I was disappointed.

  • Kelly
    2019-01-01 16:11

    Pretty ambivalent about the story line.... didn't keep me interested, and the end of the story left me wondering if I'd missed something. Not my favorite read of the year