Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Review: Billie Girl

Abandoned as an infant because of her incessant crying, and left hanging from a tree in a makeshift sling, Billie Girl is rescued by a passing couple, then turned over to a homeless boy who sells her for $5 to the two women who raise her-women who are actually brothers. Billie Girl's life, a gender-bending puzzle filled with dark humor and lessons on killing out of love, is a series of pivotal encounters with strangers who struggle along with what they are given: her two "mothers," a bigamist husband, a long-lost daughter named after a car, a platonic second husband who loved Billie's adoptive father. Twin themes of sexuality and euthanasia run throughout. In a journey from hard-dirt Georgia farm to end-of-life nursing home, Billie Girl comes to understand the mercy of killing.
(From Goodreads)

Title: Billy Girl by Vickie Weaver
Publisher: Leapfrog Press
Pages: 238
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: September 2010

Why I chose this:
I haven't read an "adult" novel in a while. By that I mean one that isn't classified as YA, because I still think most YA novels SHOULD be read by adults...but I digress. I decided to give this one a try because I'm trying to step out of my comfort box when it comes to reading.

My Thoughts:
It was interesting to see life through Billie's eyes. Growing up in the South in the 1900's, she has to fend for herself often. If graphic descriptions of bodily functions and sexual exploits bother you, this may not be a book for you. However I can honestly say that I found it a necessary part of the novel. How else would Billie learn about her body than through self exploration? It isn't as though there were sexual education classes in her lifetime. In a way, it does make sense.

This story is just so dark. I completely understand why, since Billie's life is never easy, but it is a challenging read. A big part of this book is euthanasia which can be uncomfortable at times. Billie learns at an early age about "killing for mercy" and doesn't seem at odds with it in the least. The reader will soon realize that Billie never catches a break in this story. Each time something devastating happens you hope for the best, but it just never seems to make a difference. I was impressed with Billie's ability to just accept her fate and move on. Put in her shoes, I would be quite a mess.

My biggest issue with this story was how mundane it is at times. Granted we are following a character through her day to day life, but I feel as if there could have been more character development during these times. There were portions of the story that just lagged. I also never really felt that I knew Billie and her counterparts, even as I was turning the last page. Good writing, difficult story material, okay characters. With all that combined, this book falls into my "just okay" list.

Final Rating:


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