Thursday, 20 October 2011

Being Billy by Phil Earle


Pages - 262

Published by Puffin in 2011

'The light in the hall gave the game away.
Eleven p.m. and it was still on. If they were home, they would be in bed and all the lights would be off. 
No, I knew this meant they were away. Even if they had gone to the pub, they'd have been back. Work tomorrow and all that.
I scuttled towards the front door, trying to stick to the shadows, turning the rock over in my hand. But as I reached the door, I decided to try the key. Don't know why. After all, it'd been years since I left. Surely they'd have changed the locks? They weren't the sort to take risks. They'd made that only to clear.'

Goodreads Summary
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?

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Being Billy is one of the reasons I love Twitter. If I hadn't been on there, this book would have definitely passed under my radar. Thankfully, I heard the whispers about how good the book was and    the more I heard about it the more I wanted to read it. This book did not disappoint!


This book is a gritty, hard hitting contemporary novel that makes Tracy Beaker look quite innocent. If you ever wanted to read about what living in a children's home is really like, then this is the book for you.  The main character Billy, has issues and lots of them, but you can't blame him as his life before the children's home was just terrible. He wasn't a bad kid, he was just angry and rightly so. He has spent the last ten years in care and that is a long time to feel unloved and alone. He is very protective of his younger siblings who are twins and you can easily relate to this. He is a mother and father figure to them and wants them to experience the love that he never felt.  He feels totally responsible for them. So even though others seem to have a poor view of Billy, he really is rather mature in the way he deals with his brother and sister.  Billy is definitely one of my favourite characters for 2011, his complexities  draw me to him. 

I wasn't expecting this book to affect my emotions but it did. I found myself feeling quite protective over Billy and wanting to stand up for him and shout in his corner. He needed love, real family love and the only one who seemed to be able to see it was Ronnie, his carer. Ronnie had known the family since they first came into care and you could see he felt strongly for them, just in the way he did for his own kids. At the beginning of the book you really dislike him, but as you move through the story you realise his true intentions and see that he is only trying to do what is right for the family.


Daisy is a rather complex character, who has suffered in life too. Instantly she brightens Billy's life, because he can see a kindred spirit in her. She has suffered just like he has, so she understands, even if she doesn't reveal a lot about her own life. He has found a friend to make each day a little easier. 
The twist at the end of the book was surprising. I really didn't see that coming at all and yet I felt that I should have. 


This book is just fantastic. For a debut, I thought it was extremely well written  with strong characters that tug at your heart strings. It is an emotional read, that stays with you long after you turn the last page.

12 comments:

  1. I've read so many great reviews of this book, I really think I need to read it.

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  2. We have bought Niece #2 a copy of this for her birthday. After reading this review she will be lucky to receive it unread ...... only joking, though I am tempted.

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  3. What's so sad is there are lots of kids like Billy in the world. This sounds like a touching book.

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  4. Yay for twitter making you find that book :D I do love when that happens. That book yo would never have heard of otherwise, and then you like it

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  5. I hadnt heard of this until now. Glad you enjoyed it. Don't you love when that happens? Discovering a great book, when otherwise you may not have.

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  6. Jenni - you must.It is very good.

    Petty Witter - looks like your niece may lose out.

    Bermudaonion - I know it broke my heart.

    Blodeuedd - Twitter is a wondrous thing.

    Naida - Very serendipitous!

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  7. I haven't heard of this book before now but it does sound really good. Thanks for the great review of it Viv.

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  8. Fab review Viv, I've heard so many good things about Being Billy - I really think I need to add this to my to read pile :o)

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  9. This on my tbr and I've been meaning to read it for ages, I will get it read soon as your review has made me want to even more!

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  10. I really, really loved this one. Such an emotional book to read!

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