Best of NYC

By Kimberly McDonald

Sue Carswell has a lot to be happy about. Her new book, Faded Pictures from My Backyard, has finally reached stores this month and it’s getting some great reviews. She’s even been mentioned by Liz Smith on Page 6 of the NY Post as one of NYC’s “most authentic character’s.”

Carswell’s unflinchingly honest book is the story of the two families she grew up with. Her father was the administrator at the Albany Home for Children, and her family lived on the grounds. Though not permitted to play with the children who lived in the home, Sue felt a familial kinship with them as she observed their often unhappy lives, as well as their sense of displacement. As a young girl she sometimes imagined that she would fit right in with them.

Her intense bond with her mother, who was a nurse, is a cornerstone of Carswell’s story. Sue’s mother also grew up parentless. She was a gentle and compassionate woman and the bond between mother and daughter was very strong. Carswell writes about the loss of her mother and the enormous impact it had on her life.

The universal appeal of Faded Pictures from My Backyard is that it is ripe with emotion without becoming maudlin. In fact, it is clever and in places quite amusing. It is the true story of Sue Carswell’s childhood and her ability, because of her own creative and ‘different’ personality, to identify with the orphans who were growing up literally a stone’s throw from her own home. It is certain to strike a cord with anyone who has ever felt they didn’t belong.

To purchase a copy of Sue Carswell’s Faded Pictures from My Backyard, visit or stop by your local Barnes & Noble.

Originally published April 2005
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