Book Review of Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is a tragedy that is both compelling and enthralling. It is also extremely disturbing and difficult to digest; it is not suitable for younger readers. Although the bookjacket states "it is a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist", I was uttlerly unprepared for the undercurrent of almost incessant violence and the brutal rape scenes that dominate the text. My hunch is that some victims of sexual abuse or violence would find it very upsetting to read,
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is structured around a young woman whose brother's childhood brain tumour is a factor contributing to the dysfunctional nature of the familial relationships. Able to escape to university, the girl's childhood experiences continue to affect her understanding of what 'love' is and her time at university is spent in a series of sexual encounters during which the protagonist uses violent sex as a coping mechanism for the trauma she has suffered. Unable to leave the horror of her childhood rape behind her, the reader is given some insight into her psyche and behaviour. The reader is encouraged to understand the motivation for what can be viewed, inaccurately, as erratic promiscuous behavour. McBride successfully provides the tools and the content by which the reader can begin to understand some of the awareness of the complexity of the effects of sexual abuse.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is completely deserving of being a winner of the women's prize for fiction as her writing is simply brilliant. From the very first line the reader is thrust into the narrator's head; the narrative voice is unlike any I've seen before. Using a combination of unfinished thoughts, incomplete phrases, random tangential thoughts, Irish dialect and expletives, the very essence of who the narrator is implodes and explodes. A kind of 'stream of consciousness'. with a rawness, and speed that is almost impossible to grasp or pin down, evokes an intense and unforgettable response. The reader is left reeling, and shocked, but like a guilty voyeur needing to know more. The narrative style is disturbing, exhausting, yet perfectly executed.
Book Discussion Questions on Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
Book Discussion Questions of Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (if you haven't read the book!)
Personal Response to Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is both bold and courageous. It is also a deeply troubling read. Although the book jacket of Eimear McBride's novel outlines the story as intimate insight into 'the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.' I wasn't prepared for the level of violence, abuse and horrific rapes that take place in the story. Had I known I don't think I'd have read it. Having said that I am very glad that I did. It is brilliantly written, powerful and moving. I don't think I've ever read anything like it, perhaps the closest thing is some of the 'sexual scenes' described in some of Sally Rooney's Conversation with Friends which I reviewed on Goodreads. There are also aspects of it that reminded my of Tara Westover's Educated.