Saturday, 8 January 2011

Review: Being Billy - Phil Earle

Being Billy. Phil EarleTitle: Being Billy
Author: Phil Earle
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary Young adult
Published: 6th January 2011 (Puffin)
Faces flashed before my eyes. And for every face there was a time that they had let me down. Each punch that landed was revenge, my chance to tell them I hadn't forgotten what they did. Eight years in a care home makes Billy Finn a professional lifer. And Billy's angry - with the system, the social workers, and the mother that gave him away. As far as Billy's concerned, he's on his own. His little brother and sister keep him going, though they can't keep him out of trouble. But he isn't being difficult on purpose. Billy's just being Billy. He can't be anything else. Can he?

Billy Finn has lived in a care home since he was seven years old. His Step-father used to beat him and his mum was always too drunk to look after him and his younger siblings. Billy has anger issues, hates the cares system, school ... pretty much everything really - with the exception of the twins, Lizzie and Louie, his younger siblings. They are the two people in the world Billy would do anything for. The only problem is the social workers want to take them away from him - to send them back to live with their mother now she's cleaned up her act. Billy won't be going with them and makes every effort to try and keep the twins with him - including agreeing to actually go to school. This is made much easier by his new friend, Daisy, who like him is part of the care system.

Being Billy is an emotional read that really gets you inside the head of a fifteen-year-old boy living in care and makes you really understand what he's going through. Yes, he's the kind of kid who's always in trouble, who lets his fists do the talking and has no real attachment to anyone other than his brother and sister but the reader gets a real insight into why he's like this. Essentially it's how he survives.

It's the realism that really makes this book work. There's no soft sugar-coating to Billy's actions, thoughts and feelings. A great debut book by a talented writer, I can't wait to read more from Phil Earle.

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