I first picked this book up back in 2011 when it first came out. I can’t remember why I picked it up and read it, but I did and I fell completely head over heels in love with it. Three years on (almost) and I have picked it up to read again. It is just as good the second time around, if not better.
We follow the story of Billy Finn, a young boy who has been in a foster home for the past 8 years, a self proclaimed ‘professional lifer’. He is there with his younger brother and sister and they are all that keep him going through the anger and frustration of his drunken mother and annoying social workers.
Even on the second read of this book, I was taken by surprise at how unlikeable Billy was as a character. He is so angry and upset at the system and at the world in general and, to begin with at least, it is very difficult to like him. But as the book goes on and you discover more about Billy and his struggle, your perspective shifts to one where you are really rooting for him and you really want him to find happiness in his life.
Earle has a gift when it comes to character construction. In the space of a 262 page novel, he has given us a wide spectrum of the human condition. From drunken parents to kind-hearted but toughened social workers, from young, innocent children to…well…Daisy Houghton. I adore this book so much.
On the whole Being Billy is raw, heartbreaking and simply beautiful. It will tug on your heart strings and make you root for the underdog like you have never rooted before. An absolute triumph.