As the middle of five kids growing up in dire poverty, the odds were low on Katriona O’Sullivan making anything of her life. When she became a mother at 15 and ended up homeless, what followed were five years of barely coping. This is the extraordinary story – moving, funny, brave, and sometimes startling – of how Katriona turned her life around. How the seeds of self-belief planted by teachers in childhood stayed with her. How she found mentors whose encouragement revitalised those seeds in adulthood, leading her to become an award-winning academic whose work challenges barriers to education. Poor is not only Katriona’s story, but is also her impassioned argument for the importance of looking out for our kids’ futures. Of giving them hope, practical support and meaningful opportunities.

In stock


The No. 1 Bestseller
Biography of the Year, Irish Book Awards 2023
The Last Word Listeners’ Choice Award, Irish Book Awards 2023

‘One of the best [books] I have read about the complexities of poverty . . . one of the most remarkable people you will ever meet’ Guardian

Like young girls everywhere Katriona O’Sullivan grew up bright, enthusiastic, curious. But she was also surrounded by abject poverty and chaos, and after she became pregnant and homeless at 15, what followed was five years of barely surviving. Yet today Katriona is an award-winning academic whose work explores barriers to education for girls like her.

What set Katriona on this unexpected path were the mentors and supporters who truly saw her. The teachers who showed her how to wash in the school toilets or turned up at her door to convince her to sit at least one GCSE. The community worker who encouraged her to apply for training schemes. The friend who introduced Katriona to Trinity College’s access program while she was a cleaner. Simple acts that would help her turn her life around.

Told with warmth, clarity and compassion – compassion for her parents, for her younger self, for others – Poor is both an astonishing personal testimony and an impassioned plea for the future of our children.

‘Powerful – Katriona is a legend’ Barry Keoghan

‘Raw, passionate and resolutely honest – I’ll never forget it’ Annie Mac

‘Full of insight . . . so important’ Fi Glover, Times Radio

‘I read poor in one sitting I found it so compelling . . . moving, uplifting, brave, heroic‘ Nuala McGovern, Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio Four

‘Moving, funny, brave and original – just like the author . . . absolutely incredible’ Roìsìn Ingle, Irish Times Women’s Podcast

‘One of the books of the year’ Patrick Kielty, Late Late Show, RTÉ One

‘One of the most important books I have ever read ? a beautiful telling of determination despite the odds’ Lynn Ruane, Irish Times

‘Fearless, funny and searingly honest’ Adil Ray OBE

‘Raw and remarkable’ Irish Independent

‘A book of empowerment and hope’ Patricia Scanlan

‘Remarkable . . . a vivid retelling of Katriona flourishing, despite her beginnings’ BBC News West Midlands

Additional information

Weight 0.215 kg
Dimensions 19.7 × 12.7 × 1.8 cm










378.12092 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K


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