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Review: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Layout 1A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Published June 27th 2013 by Galley Beggar Press

Awards: Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize


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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 tumour. 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. (Goodreads)

I love the cover of this book! Can’t you tell? It’s featured on my homepage. The cover along with the synopsis is what made me want to read this book. Sadly I will not be able to experience the “makings of a minor literary legend”. From the very first page it was reminiscent of Room by Emma Donoghue. I pushed myself through that book and in the end was unable to appreciate the writing style. I understand that the writing style fits the story, but it makes it difficult to enjoy when you’re spending so much time analyzing the text itself. The reviews I have read agree it is a demanding novel, but they also say it’s fascinating.  There are trigger warnings (emotional betrayal, physical abuse, cancer, sexual abuse, rape, violence, etc.) so reader beware. If you enjoy literary fiction and can appreciate an unorthodox writing style, similar to Room, then I would check it out. It’s also a great novel for challenging yourself. Unfortunately I am unable to continue with this one.

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