Book Title:
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Book Author:
Eimear McBride
Publishing Date:
June 9, 2015
Date Read:
August 10, 2015


Eimear McBride's debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumor. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

My Review

This book is written from the point of view of a young girl who lives with her mentally and physically abusive mother, and her older brother who had a brain tumor during childhood and who nothing was quite the same with afterward. The story is told from her point of view, from inside her head, and it is supposed to be a captivating and haunting look into her life.

Only, I didn’t find it captivating. I’m obviously in the minority here, but I really, really disliked this book. I found that it mostly gave me a headache. The writing style, while supposedly was what made the book so different and enjoyable, just made the book less understandable. The writing was mostly just garbled words and sentences that didn’t make much sense, and the reader has to piece the information together so that the story forms its plot.  I found it confusing how this girl, who was supposedly smart and got good grades, would have thoughts that would be so incomplete and thrown together, like a small child (when the book begins this type of narration is acceptable because she is a small child, but even as she grows, the narration in this book is still broken up and hard to understand at times).

Unfortunately, I failed to see the allure of this type of writing, and could not enjoy the book because of it.

However, I thought the plot for this book sounded interesting and unique, and this is why I was so interested in reading this book.  Once you get past the writing style (which was difficult for me), the story really is heartbreaking, especially in the beginning when the children are young and are dealing with things that children should never have to deal with.  The abuse that they suffer at the hands of their mother made me cringe quite a few times, and it left me feeling pretty sad after I had finished the book.

I would recommend glancing through this book first if possible, to see if the writing style is something that you could get into, because it was more or less what ruined the book for me.  While the story itself is pretty solid, I just wish I hadn’t felt like I was on the outside looking in (which is the opposite of what this author was going for, considering she was trying to take you inside the head of our narrator.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

1.5 stars
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