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Without Warning & Only Sometimes by Kit de Waal

Without Warning & Only Sometimes author Kit de Waal’s childhood memoir. She up with an Irish mother who, as a Jehovah’s witness forbid Christmas and birthdays, who struggled to keep her Kit and her siblings clothed and fed, who cared deeply for the lost, for other people’s children but often forgot her own. On the other hand, their Jamaican father longed for home, spent money on himself and relatives across the ocean, but rarely on those close to him – from them he was always distant. As both parents longed for something they could never have, the children were often left to fend for themselves. Cold and hungry, they found small ways of resisting without disrupting, and managed to shape their own identities, eventually leading them to different – though not less troubled – places.

This memoir is simultaneously heart-warming and devastating. Reading it, I wanted nothing more than take those lonely children into my arms, to cook them a hot meal. But it quickly becomes clear that they are more than capable of looking after themselves. If they learned one thing from their mother, it seems, it is to keep in going despite everything lie might throw your way. De Waal’s writing is fast paced and her storytelling captivating. She throws you right into the scenes of her memories. We get to observe her from early childhood to young adulthood, and bear witness to her struggles by dipping in and out of scenes, little moments that draw quite an impactful picture of a life, often painful, but unapologetically honest. If there is one thing to criticise about Without Warning & Only Sometimes, it is that there should be more of it. At times I wished some themes were explored more thoroughly, some scenes described in more detail. Yet, and perhaps exactly because of how skilfully Kit de Waal select exactly the right moments of her childhood for this book, this memoir leaves a lasting impression.

Out on August 18, 2022. Published by Tinder Press.

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