A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride – Review

IMG_8710Well, this book was not what I was expecting as I hurriedly picked it up as I rushed through Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport. If perhaps I had been looking more closely I wouldn’t have picked up such an unobvious piece. However if I had looked, and had spent a little more time looking over at some other books I would of missed out on a piece of literary genius. Truly. Literary genius. I finished the book approximately three minutes and 27..28 seconds ago and I’m speechless. My mind is in turmoil.

I won’t lie to anyone and say this book was a breeze to read, when I sat on my seven-hour flight and opened it up I thought: “What the heck is this crap?” As a reader I am used to grammar and sentence structure all in pretty much a straightforward and easily understood manner. The book however, started like this: “ For you. You’ll soon You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say.”

I mean, what!?

But I stuck with it, and boy am I glad? Glad because it’s a masterpiece, for me this is the epitome of what I love reading – something new and different. But I question that gladness purely on the fact that I am currently traumatised by the subject matter of the book and quite honestly it’s ending. And nope, I will not give it away but wow.

As a debut novel Eimear McBride can pat herself on the back, bake herself a couple of cupcakes and gorge on them because this book is darkly perfect. It provides all I didn’t realise I wanted from a book. It’s uncomfortable reading – it’s disturbing and passionate and the structure of it, written in the narrator’s head in a James Joyce-esque way gives it an element of madness. Mcbride explained that closely she was influence by Joyce with one of his quotes placed above her desk: “One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.” And this is what McBride’s novel does. McBride takes the sensible everyday language you expect and she turns it into a masterpiece of incoherent but understandable phrases exquisitely positioned to tell a story.

And what a story she tells.

The main point of the story is about a young Irish woman and her relationship mainly with her adored brother. Her brother whose survival from childhood brain cancer has left him the favourite in their religious maniac mother’s eyes, and her the outcast. She, who fights all of her brother’s battles as well as her own and protects him from a world of judgement. As we watch through the endless river of words McBride sews together a girl who grows into a woman, who has to endure the pious eyes of her mother, the abuse of her uncle and then by default her early awakening into sexuality. McBride leads the reader on an unapologetic path of self-destruction all the while hoping that the girl will pull herself together and escape from the torment not only received from her brother and mother, but also herself.

This powerfully tragic novel by McBride leaves no doubt in my mind that it will be a classic. A classic in every sense of the word.

Traumatising but totally worth it.

Buy it here on Amazon


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