Book reviews – FASD in print

A selection of books based on FASD reviewed by FASD-CAN member and IHC librarian, Eleanor Bensemann. 

The IHC Library in Wellington has many books on FASD which they can post out if you're outside the capital city – you can find out more about the library and how you can access books here


Not Fit For Purpose by Ruby King

*Note: this book contains material which some may find upsetting.

A New Zealand parent has written this powerful and moving true story, which is subtitled ‘Disability Rights Abuse of Children Living with FASD in New Zealand.’

From the allegory at the beginning to the recommendations at the end, this book is a gripping, page-turning read and will hold your attention throughout. It covers child to parent abuse and the failure of agencies to recognise or assist parents dealing with this very difficult problem. It is obvious throughout the book that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is still a disability not understood by many agencies. It seems training of support staff and social workers is patchy at best.

The abuse that Indie has suffered and the stress her family has lived through is unbelievable and on-going. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those concerned.

Available from the IHC library, and in many regional public libraries.

• You can buy your own copy direct from the author by emailing [email protected]


Skin Deep by Casey Watson – HarperElement, 2015

All she wanted was a Mummy, but was she too ugly to be loved?

Casey Watson is an experienced foster carer, and Philippa (known as Flip) comes to her at 8 years old for a short-term placement, after a home fire in which her mother was injured.

Flip has FASD, facial features and all. She proves to be a challenging child in many ways and has obviously been told many times that she is ugly so needs much reassurance. Attachment issues are part of the mix.

An interesting read that will resonate with many foster carers.

Click here to buy.


Hope Nicely’s Lesson’s for Life by Caroline Day – Zaffre, 2021

This is a novel told in the first person by Hope Nicely who has FASD. Hope wants to find her birth mother who left her in a cardboard box outside a church as a baby.

She decides to write a book that she hopes her mother will read and then come and find her. She attends a writing group and the story centres around her interactions with the other group members, her job as a dog walker and her foster mother Jenny.

This book gives great insights into the workings of an FASD brain, and the frustrations people live with. An engaging work of fiction.

Click here to buy.


Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder by Maria Catterick and Liam Curran – Jessica Kingsley,2015

This is an English publication co-written by a social worker and a carer both with much experience and understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

A very good guide to a basic understanding of what FASD is, how it manifests and strategies for parents and caregivers to use. The section on support and services available may not be relevant in New Zealand, but overall this is a very useful book. 

Available from the IHC library.

Click here to buy.