From the Archive: My James: The Heartrending Story of James Bulger by His Father by Ralph Bulger

Monday 28 April 2014
Another book I reviewed before setting up the blog which I would like to share with people, strongly reccommend this book.

Book read and reviewed March 2013.

A powerful, heartfelt and moving account of his son's murder and his fight for justice by Ralph Bulger

James Bulger was just a few weeks shy of his third birthday when, on 12 February 1993, he wandered away from his mum Denise in a shopping mall in Bootle. Grainy images from a security camera showed him trustingly holding the hand of ten-year-old Jon Venables as they walked away. Venables and his friend Robert Thompson murdered James, in a crime that shocked the world.

In this haunting book, James' father Ralph describes how his world fell apart in the days that followed. In his darkest hours he drank to numb the pain, and the stress tore his marriage apart. He tells how he learned to cope with his grief, but the sorrow of James' death has never left him. He discusses the long legal battle to see justice for his son, as he tried to prevent his killers being released early, and his continuing fight to see them behind bars where they can't hurt anyone else. Above all, he pays tribute to his son, an adorable, cheeky boy whose bright smile brought joy to his family's lives.

I wish the words I am going to write could do this book justice but they won't. It was one of the most difficult books I have ever read, but also one of the most inspiring. And any difficulties I had reading this or however upset it made me, that doesn't come close to how it must have felt to Ralph to have to relive the past 20 years all over again for this book. I hope it helped him writing this book.

I was two months younger than James Bulger when he was murdered and my mum used to take me shopping to the very same centre where he was taken from. His resting place is also in the same cemetery as my grandad and so even though I am too young to remember the case, I have grown up hearing about it and I always remember seeing this big beautiful resting place and being shocked that it was for a boy who would be the same age as me.

This book is not an easy read. The chapters surrounding the disappearance and subsequent discovery of James were especially hard to read and at times I had to put the book down because I was actually crying, it is a horrific story and it is impossible to imagine how Ralph, Denise and their family and friends felt at that time. Reading about the moment when Ralph found out his son was dead was just awful. It is incomprehensible how two children could do this to another child. I would reccommend not reading this book before bed as I struggled to sleep with all the thoughts and images in my mind. I know people have theories that perhaps it was their upbringing that made them kill, or the fact that they watched films such as Child's Play 3 but I firmly believe that Thompson and Venables were born evil. There are many people with bad upbringings who go on to live fantastic lives, and there are people from loving homes who go on to become evil people. These two vile individuals were born evil. Reading about what they did was just horrific.

Ralph speaks with searing honesty in this book along with his brother Jimmy who had to identify James's body. How awful that must be for somebody to have to do. Thompson and Venables didn't just kill somebody, they destroyed so many lives. Ralph, Denise, their family, and also the people that saw James with Thompson and Venables but did nothing about it. And why would they have done? Ralph himself assumed that James was safe when he saw him on the CCTV with two older boys. Nobody could have guessed what was to happen.

But this book does have positive moments as well. Telling how Ralph and Denise have tried to move forward with their life but never ever forgetting their son, or daughter who they also lost. James Bulger is a child who will never be forgotten, by his parents and family or by anybody who was affected by the story at the time or anyone who has read about it since. Ralph speaks about James, and his other children with such love and it makes you wonder just want kind of life this happy and loving child could have had. It certainly makes me evaluate my own life as I haven't really achieved what I know I could achieve and at the same age as James would be now I hate to think of myself as not fulfilling my potential when he never had the chance.

Ralph speaks about how he blames himself and how at times he struggles to move on with his life. I really hope this book helps him to do that. James sounded like such a fantastic little boy and for the three years he was alive he gave his mum and dad some amazing memories which Ralph shares with us in this book. It's hard to imagine a God in the world we live in but hopefully Ralph will one day be reunited with his son and find the peace and happiness that he deserves. Himself and Denise are remarkable people who continue to fight for justice. The book was a harrowing and difficult read but one that I wholeheartedly reccommend to everybody.

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