As a rule I don’t like to avoid things because they are popular or because they have won all the awards, in fact I buy into the marketing that goes along with awards and it does normally make me want to read the book, buy the album or whatever it may be and at least find out about it so I can have my own opinion. Gosh, I do love to have an opinion and I am sure that sometimes this isn’t a great quality but it’s how I am and it has opened my eyes to a lot of different things… I don’t believe it is possible to have a decent conversation about something unless you have put some leg work in first. Read. Listen. Learn and then real, informed responses and opinions can be formed.
So, I had zero thoughts on A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride until I had picked up the book other than that I had heard that it couldn’t be described as an ‘easy read’ but that is not something that would put me off… if anything that’s a challenge set. Not only winning a Bailey’s and Goldsmith’s Prize McBride has won a total of 6 awards for this novel, written in a mere 6 months and portraying a stream of consciousness from the perspective of a young woman, nameless in this stream, experiencing and dealing with a series of events in her Irish, Catholic family.
A couple of people, internet friends if you* will, informed me that they couldn’t read this book or sorry, couldn’t finish the book. For multiple reasons; disjointed prose, a particularly striking and effective technique that made me constantly uncomfortable plus the subject is unpleasant, is emotionally charged and is regularly very unsettling.
That is not to say the book is not good but I can at no point say I enjoyed it in the normal sense. I cried in public. Tears on the bus are not a good look for a commuter, not ideal for fellow travellers I am sure; how to make other people uncomfortable on a Wednesday morning.
So, while epic in its formulation and so very deeply effective I would both rate this book incredibly highly yet would not recommend it. I really don’t want to share this particular misery.
I can applaud this book but I am happy that is back on the shelf and not in my book bag.