The Hidden World of a Foster-Girl by Sadie Hapur with Jackie Hayden | Book Reviews | Memoir
Hidden World

By Grace O'Reilly

The Hidden World of a Foster-Girl by Sadie Hapur with Jackie Hayden

This indie book entitled The Hidden World of a Foster-Girl, by Sadie Harpur, and with Jackie Hayden, first published at the end of 2023, falls under several categories in terms of genre, from ‘true life’, ‘memoir’, ‘journey and discovery of self-healing’, ‘mental health’ to ‘family self-help’ and more. Not long in the world this book has already received lots of positive attention and feedback and is written with precision, love and honesty.  I would put an age rating of 12 plus on this and be aware of trigger issues that may arise.

An easy to read book with its structured, chaptered sections, told as a conversation.  A  hard read in the sense of the very raw yet very important topics arisen within.  Without  these, the book wouldn’t have served the purpose it needed, and it shows the sheer lengths that Harpur had to go through in order to get to where she is today.  Not easy, this tough cookie, also known by the name Sadie did it despite the constant battles that life seemed to throw continuously.

This book deals with dyslexia, and a far from perfect HSE foster section, which despite numerous intrusive and incessant not to mention indiscreet visits and meet ups failed to officially diagnose Sadie’s dyslexia and probable ADHD, and even though it was ‘noted’ countless times Sadie needed counselling, it never materialised either!  Foster children were never really seen as anything other than a number on a list to be ticked off.  Depression, anxiety, separation issues, judgement, serious self-harm, aggression, being groomed and treated badly, lack of self-esteem, bullying and suicide are other heavy themes that pop up during the book.

It mentions the lack of rights foster parents are given as a family.  Adopted and Fostered parents although both are not biological chose to feed, nurture and care for ‘their’ children, foster parents are not seen as a ‘parent’ and not left to raise ‘their’ children in peace as the HSE and Irish legal system just see them as a means to temporarily offload the child(ren), (for 18 years).  Even the simplest of things the HSE need to give permission to foster parents to bring their child to the GP or to have a sleep-over with family and/or friends.  It doesn’t matter that it’s the foster parents who kiss grazed knees, and wipe tears away.

There are some journal entries from when Sadie was both much younger and from a young and very vulnerable Sadie.  From the blurb:

“…The Hidden World of a Foster-Girl’ explores the life lived by a vulnerable modern Irish girl as she saw it and makes essential reading for all who care about our children and their future…. Harpur’s story is an inspirational tale of one woman facing all that life threw at her, … and winning in the end…”

Sadie’s an inspiration to many and I hope she is proud of how far she’s come in her life, and of her writing her true-life story, (which isn’t easy), to help others now and in future.

Harpur has a natural flair for writing and music, and her words flow like blood from a vein, dripping raw honesty into this book.  Her poetry is breath-taking and had the hairs on my arms standing.  Some sections I laughed a little, but overall my heart ached for her.

Loneliness Whispers

I’m the girl whose misunderstood,

Feeling like a reject, an outcast of this world,

Fear people saying things behind my back,


You just can’t help yourself getting into trouble.

I try and try

And fail and fail.


Near the start of the book there are some old pictures of Sadie.  Sadie values photographs since Gary’s death.  I am privileged to be Sadie’s friend.  Her son Ryan did all of the fantastic pictures in this book.

Hidden WorldA One Hundred out of Ten from me.

(c) Grace O’Reilly

This book is available from: Easons Wexford, Gorey and Enniscorthy, Books Upstairs, Dublin 2, Maynooth Bookshop, Brooks Ballycanew and Wexford, McGuire, Mount Merrion, Dublin, Reader’s Paradise Wexford, Hampton Books, Donnybrook, The Book Centre Wexford and Waterford, Hub 16, New Ross, Ballycanew Butchers, Daybreak, Gorey, Red Books Gorey and Wexford and Book Station Gorey.  Alternatively, you can email to order a book.

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