Review: Nobody Came by Robbie Garner

posted in: Book Reviews | 43

There is now that much controversy surrounding the events at the two children’s homes on Jersey, an independently governed island off the British Isles, which probably won’t result in any answers, that the best thing to do is read the views of the children that went through them in absence of any proper legal proceedings.

Robbie Garner’s book, assembled with the help of female survivor Toni Maguire, manages this view from the horse’s mouth very effectively, and describes the entire lives of his brothers and baby sister as they are taken from their violent and rowing parents , sent to live at Sacred Heart and the more infamous Haut De La Garenne children’s homes on the island. The brothers are split up according to age and their baby sister disappears quickly. For the younger kids at the Sacred Heart/Sacré Coeur, the regime is more one of intimidation, physical abuse and violence that borderlines into organized torture from the nuns and their male puppets, with one paedophile on site and the other connected to one of the schools.

The book has a slightly different structure to other abuse memoirs in that its chronological structure puts the author’s worst sexual abuse incident nearer to the end, and the release of children from social care aged 15 on the island, rather than 18 on the mainland UK, essentially kick-starts their adulthood straight away. Life improves but not by much. Much of the fighting back is indirect and the orphanage boys have to pull together to survive, but Garner manages to increase his confidence through sport and the occasional scrap in school. There is one more incident of revenge by proxy which I won’t spoil and the fact that the abuse was island-based, wasn’t something the offenders took into account, and which the victims could exploit later on.

There is further family-related heartache for the boys when grown up, though that is dealt with quite efficiently in a fait-accompli manner as their mother and father essentially ceased to be parents after their placement in care.

The final sentence in the product description on Amazon UK is slightly misleading. There are 2-3 children described in the book that effectively disappear, but the vast majority of the author’s friends are accounted for at the end with their various fortunes in life, which takes Garner a few years to ascertain. The sentence about wondering about the missing refers to the worst victims of Haut De La Garenne, all of whom decide to get off the island and never return.

The book is brave not only for the author’s suffering throughout his childhood and his survival of it, but also for the fact that he didn’t derive any satisfaction from the media revelations regarding the story or any catharsis. So many memoirs attempt to give a happy ending and the reality is that it just doesn’t happen for many sexual abuse survivors, as shown by the suicide of some of the victims as Garner grows up, and Garner continues the role of carer to his younger brother into adult life due to the physical abuse that caused his sibling permanent damage.

It’s a powerful and instructive read and one to add to my collection in future, having borrowed it from the library.

The Amazon Product Page is here:

Amazon UK info

and a general news trail regarding the Jersey Care Home stories from the Daily Mail UK Website is here:

Daily Mail Story Trail

– CBG

43 Responses

  1. fiona yorke

    i wish back in them days i would of been an adult and could of came and ended your pain

  2. samantha

    i wish someone had come to help these boys and girls. Not one adult reported these crimes against the children. no one gave these kids a voice. I find it hard to wrap my head around what abuse these children endured. Its even harder to understand that it was allowed and continued for a lengthy period of time.

  3. Jodie

    Reading about Robbie’s childhood made me realise how different my life is to theirs. Nobody should have to endure the sort of things that happened to him and the others at the care homes. The carers are supposed to care but they abused the trust put in them and played out sick, perverted fantasies.
    I wish I could’ve been there to help him and the others. I wish they could’ve found a way to stop the pain before so many felt the need to take their life.

  4. Pam

    Have just finished reading Robbie’s book. I cannot comprehend how something like this was allowed to happen. These people were in a position of authority. It is totally disgusting and makes me very angry.
    How very cruel, my heart goes out to anyone who suffered at the hands of these bullies and perverts.

  5. sam

    i have just finised reading robbies story i cried 4 those children, how can we stop this from happening again and again,

  6. Jenny

    I have just finished reading Nobody Came, I had to take breaks from it as it upset me so deeply. These children never had a childhood, it was unfairly robbed from them.

    I had read about the Haut De La Garenne in newspapers, this was shocking and sickening. However to read about it through his experiences it left me physically sick.

    For the nuns that treated the children the way they did, I hope they rot in hell, even that is too good for them.

    The children would have had a better life living on the streets!

    My husband and I are going through the process of fostering, every child deserves to be a child! I have a son myself and I would never ever give him that kind of life. As other parents will know, your child is your world and you would do anything to protect him/her.

    Robbie my heart goes out to you, your a very brave man and I hope you are enjoying your life now. I have also read Toni Maguire’s books and found it even more alarming that most of the story was based in my own home town!

  7. sue

    To Robbie and Davie, what brave brave people you are. I am so saddened after reading your book. So appreciative of my own childhood., and so mortified that there wasn’t anyone who could have helped you. I so wish, with all my heart, that as children of these horrific places, there would have been someone, anyone, whom you could have turned to. Unfortunately, it seems that those evil excuses for human beings will never get their punishments here on this earth. But I pray with all my heart Robbie, that they will be dealt with in the next world. With ALL my best wishes to you both.

  8. Steve

    An incredible true story – I bought the book yesterday to read while I was away on business. I started to read it around 9PM and could not put it down – I finished reading the book around 1.30AM – then I wept and wept – I have tears rolling down my face now as I write this

    I hope all those responsible for these atrocities burn in hell for eternity

    Robbie and Davie – my heart goes out to you and I wish you peace

  9. Deborah

    I just finished your book last wk,it was very upsetting.I just wanted to climb into the pages and help you all.My heart was breaking thinking of what you all went through..If id been around before you went into that place,i would have looked after you..

  10. kirsty

    i have read quite alot of true story books but i have never ever came across a book as heart breaking at this one. all the way through it i found my self clenching my fist and had tears in my eyes. robbie you are such an inspirational person and would like to say well done on your strength and determination you had on gettin your self and your lil brother davie out safe and sound. my full sympathy goes to you on the death of your brother its such a shame for him to get through it all and then that to happen. i am only 20 years old but this book has made me realise just how lucky i am to have lived the childhood i had and would love to be able to give some of my happiness too you! this book has really touched me and i will remmber it for as long as i live. i just hope we are at a day and ag now where children voices are heard and listened to to prevent this from still happening. all the best to you and your family i wish u all the happiness in the world xx

  11. anna ball

    i have just finished the book and it took me longer to read than any other book! as it was so distressing. i kept having to put it down an then go back to it later. my grandmothers words before she died was that we live in hell now and i can honestly believe her words after reading this book .

  12. gemma hibbett

    i have read the book nobody came and was reduced to tears, to think you were going somewhere to be safe and looked after when you had already been through a traumatic time is disgusting. I cant believe what these girls and boys had to go through just to survive it breaks my heart, i have a young son and if i ever thought or knew he had been hurt like that it would kill me. the sheer thought of what happened makes me cry. how can you trust again? how do you feel safe? im just glad that you have been through some of the worst times but it has made you stronger and not destroyed like it has many others. my hope and love for the future

  13. carly hopkins

    I never normally read books but my friend gave me the book nobady came…

    I am lost for words with that book, I am so upset inside to even imagine wot went though your minds. your mother was a heartless bitch (sorry but she was) how could you just up and leave your 3 young children,

    I carnt even imagine the pain you all went through.. i hope the lot of them wardens rot in hell, the lot of them had serious issues, how nasty can honestley some people be.. IT WAS THEM THAT NEEDED TO BE PUT
    INTO A MENTAL INSTITUTE, OR EVEN GIVEN SUCH PAIN THAT THEY KILLED THEMSELVES..

    MY HEART GOES OUT TO ALL OF YOU ROBBIE,DAVIE THE LITTLE GIRL AND R.I.P JOHN….
    ALSO TO THE OTHER CHILDREN THAT WENT THROUGH IT ALL X

  14. Jade Gallagher

    Oh Robbie I just finished you’r book and I just can’t stop crying for you, crying for John and my heart just bleeds for Davie. I’m sitting here in tears completely floored. I have a 3yr old boy and when you described Davie at this age it sounded just like my baby. How on Earth does this happen? How on Earth does a mother leave her children to wonder the streets alone at this age, let alone leave them for someone else to have, not even check in on them? I can’t understand! The whole time reading this book I wanted to go back in time with a shot gun and save you all. I still want to dive into the book and pull you all out while you were still with you’r mother. I wish I could hold you all as children and tell you and your brothers your all amazing beautiful and LOVED! I just kept wishing and hoping it would get better but with each page turned I felt more sick and more fury. No words can say what reading this book has done in me.
    R.I.P Dear brave amazing Jon
    Robbie, You will be on my mind and thoughts and in my Heart Forever
    Davie you Angel You deserved so much more You will forever be in my heart
    xoxoxoxoxoxo

  15. sara

    i have just read your book and i am shocked to no that you went through all this and there was no one there to help you. i thought that my up bringigng was hard untill i read your book. my hart and my thoughts are with you and davie and my prayers go out to john. you are a wonderfull man to have survived this. xxxxxxxxx

  16. Marie Hall

    I’ve just finished your book, it was tough to read, how could people do that? I feel absolute hatred towards them all. To actually experience such torture and abuse for real as a child is just unimaginable to me. There truly are monsters in this world…let’s hope they all get what’s coming to them.
    You Garner’s are made of strong stuff, you’ve proved that by writing this book.
    Good luck to you Robbie.

  17. Andrew Oxley

    My whole heart aches for these children. Busy reading the book “Nobody Came” and find myself often in tears as i page through the wet pages. Not understanding what would drive people to do such ungodly acts can only be linked to demonic behaviour. Overwhelming hatred towards these abusers… Well done Robbie with this emotionally brilliant book. There are so many questions that have been left unanswered, i trust you’ll find what you’re looking for….

  18. Shaz

    I am almost through reading this book and I am getting more angry at the turn of every page. How can the authorities not monitor these homes??!! How can teachers be so side tracked by their own hidden and sick agendas?? Robbie and Davie – I wish that you get all the happiness and love and care you were so deprived of.

    • Jay

      I too found the book made angry and I could not stop reading it I wanted to know John, Robbie and Davie got out of that awful place. I read a lot of true life books about people who have had terrible upbringings or episodes in their lives but come out of those experiencies with such courage and even go on to help other people. What an inspiration these men are.

  19. Natasha

    I have read this book and have started reading many more like this.. this story touched my heart & so did you Robbie. I cried reading this book & tears still come to my eyes everytime i think of you, your brothers and those helpless children.

    I have a daughter 7yrs i could never imagine leaving her or thinking she could ever go through such pain.. it makes me feel sick i never new humans could be so evil. I could never know the pain you have been through but just reading your story has left me feeling hurt and that is why i cry for you and your brothers.

    Am sad for the loss in your life especially your loving brother John.. i want you 2 know nothing will ever touch my heart the way you have and always will.

    I would like to think not but after reading your story i always tell others no matter how bad you think your life is others could be going through worse…

    Robbie i hope life is treating you and Davie well and i hope you are happy for the rest of your life.. xxxxxx

  20. Pauline

    The fear and torture you and yours experienced in that hellhole must be akin to what the Jews suffered under the Nazis.

    What I want to know, is why these perverts in long black frocks have never been brought to justice ?

    Time is not a factor surely, as war criminals were still being hunted down decades after the war.

    I despise religion but I despise the Catholic religion most of all. I do believe most of these silly women who joined up

    suffered from sort of sexual perversion.

    All this anger and rage and I’m only halfway through the book

  21. danielle

    my heart is sore today my eyes sting of the pain i feel for you and your life id love to hug u but i know it wont ever make a difference id love to met u and just try and help u i hope them nuns burn in hell and for parker and blake get what they desevere ur strong to survive it all i wouldnt have been hope the rest of ur life is good try carry on even tought it must be tough i would of normally said god bless you but the way them nuns treated u god wasnt their hope u find a little confort one day take care my friend danielle carroll if u ever look me up im on facebook me and my husband are in the piture. hope u find me it be nice to chat and become friends talk soon all my love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  22. Robbie Garner

    Many thanks for your comments, was very moved. I try to move on, though I trip along, as memorys are not easily erased.
    I’ve shut it out for many years, but since the opportunity of the book, am managing to talk about it much more and the easier it becomes.
    Again many thanks.

    • Lynz

      People like u inspire me robbie all my love to you and Davie ur book broke my heart but well done to u for bein so brave and speaking out.I’ve so much respect for you,I read a lot of these books makes me realise what I have in life.I message most peoples who’s books ive read just so I can tell them that there are people out there that care and I just find it so amazing and inspiring how you turn your lives around. Love to you and your family I’ll never forget your story xxxxx

      • Jay

        You and all those other young children are an inspiration Mr Garner, How and Why these things happened is just unbelievable, what words can people say other than wish your adult life is as happy as can possibly be, may you be able to sleep peacefully now your in control of your life. I tried many tears reading your book and like other people have said wish they could have reached inside the book at taken all those children out of the horrible places you were put into, why did these things happen, why why how and why. May you have peace and much happiness always.

    • Anonymous

      No words cam sey what a good brave strong courageous inspiration and loving brother you are.I wish you AMD Davie all the best for the future and if you ever do a book signing please let us all know on here or facebook so that we can shake your hand in person even thought the years will escape toset somebody like you all my love xxxx

  23. A

    Robbie thank you for having the courage to write about Haut de la Garenne. I survived this place too – in the 70s and 80s not before then but I remember how awful it was I do. I think you have a great deal of kindness and honesty and strength to do this and thank you. Glad you spoke out. Take care

  24. rachel smith

    i have just finished your book robbie and i cried all the way through….how you got through so many awfull things that happened at that awfull place is amazing the first school was hard enough with the evil nasty nuns…and then to go to the haut de la garenne was unbearable…..your story has touched me in a way that no story has ever touched me before and i cant get it all out of my head….you and your brothers was innocent children and to lose john after everything you all went through broke my heart…oh robbir you are such a very brave man to release all of those memories as awfull as they was and tell the world what went on behind the closed doors of that evil place ….you are my hero …..love is out there robbie and you will find it and it wont hurt you no more and you will find peace and lay those awfull memories to rest xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  25. Marie

    I have just finished reading Robbie’s book last night, which I confess caused me to have a sleepless night – I cannot imagine the amount of sleepless nights it has caused Robbie and his brothers. I found it horrifying that people can treat fellow human beings with such cruelty, the nuns treated the children with such evilness but to endure what happened in Haut de la Garenne it so hard to imagine for someone who was brought up in a loving home.

    These people deserve to be punished for their cruelty; how did know one on an Island come to the children’s rescue – surely kid’s committing suicide had to ring some alarm bells. How does so many pedophiles’ end up working in children’s homes – surely someone must have known? So many questions come to mind when you read such a harrowing story.

    I was heartbroken to read about John but so grateful that as brothers you all came together after the most unimaginable childhood that anyone could have – you all proved that blood is thicker than water, you all showed true sibling love.

    Robbie, I thank you for your bravely of telling your story, my father’n’law was brought up in a convent and we know he suffered abuse at the hands of the nuns – unfortunately he never told anyone what truly happened, we can only imagine after hearing and reading about how nuns treated children. He had so much anger and we only hope that he found some peace knowing he had a loving family before he passed away last year.

    Robbie I wish you and Davie happiness in the future and hope one day you find peace within yourself – take care.

  26. Isabel

    Robbie you are a true inspiration to society and writing this book will be able to help others who have been abused to come to terms with their very bad experience. I too was in a children’s home in N Ireland run by abusive nuns and priests and find it very hard to accept the catholic teachings. However your life was so much harrowing than mine. I have 4 kids now and one of them the same age as you and your brother (they are 2 boys) and my heart was just ripped apart after I kept re-reading the events. These people are sick and may they rot in hell. I hope you and your brother have the strength to live your life. Take care. RIP John xxx

  27. kerry

    For heavens sake this book is written from the pit of the mans stomach thank goodness it has been highlighted who cares by whom. For me its a must read but beware it will tare your heart out. I hope to God all who abused including the nuns rot in hell

  28. kerry

    me agian Robbie there are people out here who are good and care about you and all the others who were abused. I can not understand why this was not reported sooner. Unfortunatly cases such as this carry on. We must stop the suffering of children. My heart is still bleading, I will never forget your story.
    With love a loyal friend. Kxxx

  29. Ira

    Hello.I read your book and could not remain indifferent.
    it struck the deepest corners of my soul.I am so grateful to you for what you had the courage to talk about what you had to go through.Your book made me cry, I can not describe what I felt when I read it.it should become a classic.many of the works that is nothing compared with your book.for it necessarily make a movie.
    Your book is very easy to read
    I read it in 2 days.
    my world changed.
    I live in Russia and did not speak very good English, so I ask you to forgive me for my mistakes.
    ?hank you.

  30. the truth will out

    i am reading your book at present with sadnessa and anger. how a nun a bride of christ could do such awful things beggers belief but unfortunatly we know these and other stories to be true. my prayer is they all rot in hell

  31. Jan

    Brilliant book ,I couldn’t put it down,I’m so sorry you & your brothers and many others went through this hell..goes to show how hypocritical religion is if they can treat children that way! I cried when John died, I cried when you were abused and bashed. I hope your having a better life & know people care about you and Davie x
    much love..Jan from Australia

  32. Helen v

    Oh my god!! How on earth did this cruelty exist? My heart goes out to every boy and girl who were putty in the hands of priests, nuns and wardens!! I just finished reading nobody came, and it has ripped my heart in 2. It is horrible to think these people were given the trust to care for these children and treated these children worse than criminals! Innocent children who suffered and nobody came and no one helped. So sad that these children believed no one would listen, believe or help. I’m a school teacher and l listen and try to help all my students. They trust me and believe I can help. I hope those people who carried out such horrific crimes on children were/ are punished. Hope they were rejected from society, hope they felt guilt and shame on their death bed. I hope they suffered and felt pain, pain that will never compare to what those innocent children indured. Robbie an amazing inspirational book, that left me feeling very sad and sick. I’m glad you had time with John and Davie. I’m sorry you missed out on the childhood you deserved . Thinking of you and your bravery. X h

  33. dydy

    señor robbie garner yo no lei su libro pero siempre le ofreci mi corazon para calmar su gran dolor y tristeza sin ninguna condicion solo depende de usted aceptarla .

  34. Anonymous

    What a emotional journey the three boys took. So sorry to hear that john passed away as he was your hero and inspitation.keep looking after Davie AMD stay true to yourself.I admire u xxdd

  35. Anonymous

    Robbie Garner is a on the sex offender register for life. Real name is Allister Garnham he got sentence in 2008

  36. Anonymous

    This book is fiction nothing in this book is true about the sacre coure. I know I was there

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