Fragmented. Aging. Cancerous. Self-fulfillment. All featured within A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride.
A disapproving, religious mother, a nonexistent father, and an older brother handicapped by a brain tumor individually will have a rather large effect on how someone will grow up and place themselves within the world. And, undoubtedly, all three of those people in your life will have a formative effect on you. So for the young woman narrating McBride’s story, her personality is heavily impacted by these influences. With immense love for her older brother and an aggressive antipathy toward her mother, the narrator seeks out affirmation of her self outside of her family and friends, particularly through rough sex as introduced to her by her uncle when she was 13. Finding and trying to better herself and fighting to keep her brother from dying drive the narrator into periods of action, culminating in an inevitable end to close the cycle of trauma.
In a word, the narrative is raw; there is a power to the story being told; however, the unique writing style choice seemed far more of a gimmick than actually contributing to the narrative in a functional way. The message being conveyed was strong enough on its own merits as a coming of age story/realization of self and could be more powerful if the writing style made the story more easily accessible to more readers. I enjoy a challenge when reading and subverting traditional narrative styles, but this was less a challenge and more of a lobotomy. Yes, I understand that we’re all imperfect creatures and constantly changing and evolving into a different version of ourselves. And, yes, our thoughts may change direction while we’re thinking. But that doesn’t mean that we all have such fragmented thought processes so as to find it difficult to get the gist of what’s happening. Even some of the earliest stream-of-consciousness works are infinitely easier to comprehend than McBride’s attempt (I honestly found it easier to read a stream-of-consciousness story in German while still learning the language!).
Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.