A girl is a half-formed thing by Eimear McBride

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Text Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781922182234.
(Adult - Selected senior students) Reading Eimear McBride's debut novel requires energy and emotional strength but far from being difficult it seems to bypass intellect and speak directly to the reader's emotions like good poetry. Central to the story is the girl's relationship with her brother, the 'you' throughout the novel. Affected by a brain tumour, she wishes he could be normal and is protective and emotionally tied to him. At the same time she is deeply affected by her mother's lack of affection, her father's absence, poverty and the whole Irish catholic notion of guilt, sin and the need to be cleansed. An uncle seems to offer her the love she craves but guilt combined with her lack of self esteem leads to confronting sexual abuse, self-debasing behaviours and self harm. Not an easy book and there are strong sexual references, but for adults and maybe selected senior students, worth the effort.
Sue Speck