Top Girl is a difficult read but it's also an important one - for anyone trying to change vulnerable children's lives for the better.
Top Girl is a shocking and harrowing account of an impressionable teenage girl's descent into a world of drugs, gangs and crime. Danielle Martin talks honestly about life in London's gangland and how so many vulnerable children are seeking ways to survive in this brutal world. Most importantly, she talks about how she eventually managed to climb her way out of it, providing hope and reassurance that this is possible. Top Girl provides a valuable insight into gang culture - how members use violence and illegal dealings to make money, yet also provide support and protection for one another. The book is highly readable, and I was very invested in Danielle's life, from grammar-school girl to a high-profile drug dealer. Top Girl is the ideal read for anyone who wants to understand what leads so many vulnerable children and teenagers to be sucked into this culture - and how to give them a stable, positive future. Top Girl is a difficult read but it's also an important one - for teenagers, parents, teachers, social workers and anyone trying to change children's lives for the better.
Top Girl is the tell-all, true story of a grammar school girl turned county lines drug dealer.
Danielle has a safe, happy childhood growing up in West London, but her bright future fades as she turns her back on school for gang life and crime.
Betrayed by the police after a brutal gang rape, she finds protection under the wing of organised criminals and falls in love with the local 'top boy'. However, her allegiances bring terror to her doorstep when gun-toting rivals target her flat - and the authorities answer by taking away her baby. Heartbroken, Danielle spirals deeper into gang life and becomes a key player in a sprawling county lines operation, running drugs to satellite towns all over the UK from the gang's London HQ.
The Harrods shopping sprees, designer handbags and hedonistic lifestyle are the envy of her friends, but the good times and cash mask the grim realities of her life.
A turning point comes when Danielle is arrested and - with the help of a probation officer - she begins to question whether she really is 'top girl' after all. But after five years deep in the high-earning street hustle, can she really leave it all behind?
Danielle's gritty, emotional, no-holds-barred memoir lays bare the reality of a county lines insider and reveals the truth about life on the frontline of Britain's biggest drug threat for a generation.
|Publication date:||3rd March 2022|
|Publisher:||Mardle Books an imprint of Ad Lib Publishers Ltd|
|Primary Genre||Biographies & Autobiographies|
I finished Top Girl last night. Whoa! Incredible read and had to remind myself that this isn't Crime fiction but Crime fact. Harrowing but also inspiring. - Joy Kluver, author of Last Seen, Broken Girls, Left for Dead
Myth busting and destroying the stereotypes of who and what a drug dealer looks like and where they come from. You don't sign up for a gang, they are your friends. An eye opening account of how involved Danielle was in the start of the county lines operation. The ripple effect of one decision. I found the book fascinating and illuminating, a brutally honest account that does not hold anyone else responsible for the decisions that Danielle made. An important book for the younger generation. - Netgalley
Danielle Marin's memoir lays bare the underworld of drug 'trapping.' I devoured this book in a few days, each page, turning quickly one after another. The tales laid out on the pages are at times incomprehensible and the events 'D' gets involved with are really quite hard to come to terms with. The writing is raw, gritty and so very honest. - Netgalley
'An unmissable insight into the true lives behind the county lines gangs. You should read this.' - Pippa Crerar, Daily Mirror Political Editor
I have a feeling this is going to be one of THE books of 2022 - Linda Hill, blogger
I'm forever grateful to Mardle Books for giving me the opportunity to read some amazing books and this one is quite possibly my most favourite yet. It packs a punch and left me feeling every emotion under the sun. I felt sad, happy, proud and broken but what a journey I went on. Thank you Danielle for allowing us to learn about your life so far. - Karen and her Books, Blogger
'I was gripped to Danielle's story from page one. I felt every emotion possible reading this story of a highly intelligent girl who had everything going for her falling into a different path and making some bad life choices. Some parts were hard to read and deeply upsetting as a mother and a woman, and in honesty I was frustrated with her priorities on a few occasions; that said it is easy to judge when you're looking in. By the end I was rooting for Danielle. This book is a prime example of how one bad decision or traumatic event can effect your life so dramatically, and a remainder to never judge or label someone. A truly fantastic story. Honest and raw. You deserve every success Danielle, you done your boy proud.' - Netgalley
'There are some books that stay with you forever and Top Girl will be one of those for me. Vivid, insightful and extremely powerful, I have thought about this book every day since reading it. Danielle has opened my eyes to a world on my doorstep that I have never seen before. And I feel that I am coming away from it a more informed person. It is truly a must-read for everyone.' - Jenny Proudfoot, Marie Claire UK Features Editor
'I found Top Girl to be a heart-breaking tale of how some bad choices or difficult periods in a childhood can snowball and derail a promising child's life. Should be required reading for those making decisions about the futures of young people, many of whom have little understanding of what these lives are truly like. I suspect in the end Danielle will get every success and bit of happiness she deserves - she just took a slightly longer route to get there.' - Linda Boa, blogger Crime Worm
'A harrowing read. A good girl gone bad memoir and it definitely shocked me! Danielle is a smart student who attends a grammar school but quickly goes awry. I read this very quickly. Would recommend.' - Netgalley
'This was a deeply raw, honest and moving memoir of a young girl who grew up in a loving home, had a good childhood, was well educated ended up as East London's top girl of drug dealing. It showed me how easy it is to get involved with that lifestyle and how quickly things can turn. There were times when I was conflicted in how I felt about Danielle and her life choices however this book shows how not everything in life is black and white and there are many shades of grey in between. This is a particularly poignant tale especially with everything that is happening concerning county lines and gang culture right now.' - Netgalley
'I don't normally read autobiographies but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could relate to life growing up in London. Danielle was bought up on an estate. A smart girl who went to grammar school but lured into too much too soon. Mixing in a bad crowd, experiencing things from an early age and going down the wrong path. Put into care and then losing her own child. This is a must read.' - Netgalley
'Beautiful. Poignant. Phenomenal. This was a beautify read and I learnt so much. I cried and I smiled and there was nothing more that I wanted from this book. Truly a gem.' - Netgalley
'I genuinely think that this book should be available in comprehensive schools up and down the country. This searing, moving and , at times, gut wrenching memoir pulls literally no punches in the way Danielle describes how she fell into the county lines culture, the drugs and gang lifestyle, and the systems set in place to help her which did the complete opposite, and drove her deeper. It is a twenty first century cautionary tale told with grit, authenticity and a brutal sense of self awareness that honestly humbled me when I read it. This is a woman with integrity looking back, at identifying the key periods in her life where she was failed by societal structures which should have pulled her away from the lifestyle which she was gradually pulled into. I have a daughter the same age as Danielle was when she got involved in the gang lifestyle. And I had to stop reading several times because it was so very brutal and there is a dignity in how Danielle describes her traumas, it is not something exploitative or graphic which makes what happened to her all the more powerful. It is an incredibly moving , powerful testimony to a woman who has lived a life. She has lived, survived, and sets out her experiences without flinching, without pity, just putting it out there which accentuates how courageous she is, to this reader's mind. I finished this book in tears, and in awe, wanting to applaud this woman for her strength and the way that she continues to use her experiences to contribute to a justice system which is deeply flawed and not fit for purpose.' - Rachel Read It, blogger
'The intensity of the narration and the emotional trauma the author must have suffered made this book a gut wrenching experience. You really do need to read Top Girl for yourself and encourage your teenage family members also, especially if London based - it's as much educational as anything else. Gritty, explosive and darkly emotional, this factual true crime memoir needs as much publicity as it can, to raise awareness of 'gang' life and drug crime and I'd happily recommend to any reader who isn't easily upset or offended.' - A Mother's Musings, blogger