Friday, 4 March 2011

Being Billy by Phil Earle

Title: Being Billy
Author: Phil Earle
Publisher: Puffin
Published: Jan 2011
ISBN: 978-0141331355
Author's website :

Rating 5/5

The cover on this is fresh and bright.  Being Billy is a sensitive yet powerful book about a lad in care.  He's a 'lifer' and has adapted to his environment.  The story is told from Billy's point of view and has some stark insights into how children in care feel they have to act and behave.  

From Chapter 1 readers get an immediate sense of anger, frustration and empathy for this troubled and misunderstood boy.  He's had to act so tough just to find his place in his world.  He puts up barriers between anyone wanting to be friends with him, and treats those who dare to come close with distrust and violence.  Later his life story begins to unravel as he makes friends with Daisy, another child in care who is currently staying with friends.  All is not as it first seems, and things escalate in Billy's life.  His siblings that he holds so dear and are the family he has kept safe, are sent back to be at home and Billy is left behind, hurt and rejected as he is not wanted by his maternal parent.

Phil Earle has really brought home to me how different a child's life in care is to that of a supportive or family environment.  Within the pages you could see that Billy was being torn apart by not being understood.  He felt he had no one to tell his secrets to, and his nightmares reflected the life that led to him and his siblings being placed in care.  The job the care workers did was a very hard one, but seen from Billy's eyes from the beginning, they are there as a dictatorship rather than for his support and to help him.

A quote from Bing Billy which is sure to pull at your heart strings:
"Because this time they're leaving me behind.  And the difference is, Annie wants them.  Jan and Grant didn't want me.  Not once I realized what I was"

A read that I couldn't put down, as I did get engrossed in Billy's life and his reactions to those around him, as well as being shocked by some of the scenes and taken in by Billy's love for his siblings.  He has some really sweet moments, especially where his siblings are concerned.  A heart breaking book in places which had me in tears more than once as we understand what Being Billy really means.  A highly recommended read.

Book synopsis:
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? 

Source - Many thanks to Puffin Children's Publicity team, this was received at a publicity event.

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