Review: Facing the Yorkshire Ripper by Mo Lea

Title: Facing the Yorkshire Ripper – The Art of Survival

Author: Mo Lea

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Pen & Sword

The Blurb

As a survivor of a brutal attack by the Yorkshire Ripper, this book gives fresh insight into the consequences of being labeled a victim of this notorious serial killer.

Mo Lea was followed home and attacked by Peter Sutcliffe, who hit her over the head repeatedly with a hammer. She was stabbed with a screwdriver leaving her with life threatening injuries. The book reveals how Mo has wrestled with the past, struggling to come to terms with the well-trodden, morbid narrative. She has written a new, fresh perspective for the present day.

Her writing offers an alternative account, one which repositions her as a survivor with a success story. While sympathy has its place for the victims, this book gives insight into processes of recovery and success. Mo had no control over unwanted media interventions. Sometimes the Ripper story would appear on the morning news while she was getting ready to go to work. She learnt to contain her anxiety but she could neither predict or escape these uncomfortable moments that reminded her of her past trauma.

Mo Lea’s art practice has been an important factor in her life. She has been fortunate to use this as an outlet to explore her pain, anger, suffering and recovery.

After years of personal growth and recovery, a short film was made of Mo Lea creating a drawing from the iconic photograph of the man who had tried to take her life. She is filmed ripping up the Ripper. She is filmed tearing up the portrait that she had so carefully drawn, rendering him as disposable as a piece of litter. The film shows how Mo turned her story around, making Sutcliffe the victim and herself, the triumphant survivor.

Mo had finally found a way of stepping out of the frame. She no longer felt Iike running away. The illustrations contained within describe better than any words, her journey from tragic despair to calmness and acceptance. By writing this book Mo Lea has found a way to reclaim her story.

The Review

Oh dear. I don’t know what I was expecting with the true crime novel Facing the Yorkshire Ripper but I know I wasn’t expecting to come away from the story feeling unsympathetic to the survivor. Not in a horrible way, I mean, I am glad she survived but I just felt that she didn’t seem to help herself with her survival and this is where I am going to sound awful but it is almost like she used her victimhood too much but then proclaimed that she didn’t want to be a victim. It was almost like she used what had happened to her to justify her behaviour. This is probably due to me and author Mo Lea having very different perspectives when it comes to trauma and I don’t want to take away from her lived experience but the book Facing the Yorkshire Ripper didn’t endear me at all.

Facing the Yorkshire Ripper – The Art of Survival by Mo Lea is available now.

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