Paperback (Faber & Faber, 205 pages)
First published 2013; this edition published 2014
Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
“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.”
After reading the blurb for A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing, I was hooked. It sounded like a wonderful novel, and I was eager to read it. By chance, I won the shortlist of books for the Baileys Prize For Women’s Fiction, and this novel was included. I began to read it within a few days of receiving the shortlist – but my hopes quickly faded.
I think one of the reasons I simply did not enjoy this story was the sentence structure and writing style – I know that it’s a sticking point for many reviewers and readers. I thought I could get past it, and I eventually did to an extent, but it still made enjoying the story difficult, and I ended up skipping many a page because I simply could not be bothered to wade through it. Perhaps I should have put it down and saved it for another day, but being the stubborn woman I am, I refused to give up.
I’m pleased I didn’t, but this book offered no reward for it. Not for me. It was a bit like the beginning of The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, sentence-structure-wise – but at least The Colour Purple became more and more readable as it went on. A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing… didn’t. Because of the writing style, I found it hard to relate to the characters or even at times understand what was going on – not ideal.
If you like unusual sentence structure, read this. If, like me, you prefer your tales to be a little more coherent, avoid.