That moment where you finish reading a fabulous book and all you want to do is write / shout / tweet about it…
I knew I had to write a review on this book after the first couple of pages. Halfway through I sent the author an emotional tweet and by the end of it I had rearranged my entire blogging schedule to get this review up on BlondeWriteMore.
Oh Lesley Allen – what have you done to me!
So here is my review of The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir:
What were my first impressions about the book cover and blurb?
A pretty and striking cover, however it was the tagline, ‘everyone’s a little a bit weird,’ which got my attention. As someone who has felt a little bit weird her entire life this called out to me.
I didn’t read all of the blurb as the tagline was doing things to me. A good tagline can make me ignore important things like the blurb.
Anyway, I quickly skim read a bit of the blurb below before diving straight in.
‘Abandoned by her mother as a baby, and with a father who’s not quite equipped for the challenges of modern parenting, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time painting by the sea and watching the birds go by. That is, until she meets Alison Flemming’.
Did you connect with the characters?
Prior to this, I can’t remember reading a book where I have fought against a powerful urge to climb inside it. I have also never experienced strong feelings for starting a social media campaign to save a fictional character. Three chapters in and I was frantically tweeting the author, Lesley Allen with ‘I want to start a #SaveBiddy campaign.’
This story is about Biddy Weir, someone who has struggled her entire life to connect with others. Biddy knows she’s different and her day-to-day life is about survival. The book starts at primary school, with the arrival of new girl, Alison Flemming, who takes an instant dislike to Biddy. The first half of the book is about Biddy’s suffering as Alison embarks on a cruel and vindictive bullying campaign.
My connection with Biddy was strong. I found pieces of myself within her character. During my school years I was socially awkward, like Biddy. Overnight school trips were a nightmare for me too and my awkwardness multiplied at an alarming rate once my body started changing.
I was also bullied at primary school, not on the scale of Biddy’s, but it was bad enough for me to wake up one morning, riddled with fear and falsely claim to my parents I had gone blind in one eye. Thank goodness for a hospital consultant, with a kind face, a soothing voice and a collection of glittery stickers, who saw through my apparent medical condition.
Biddy’s weird ways are what makes her so interesting. Her fascination with birds and their poo made me smile and her first attempts at putting on makeup felt similar to my own.
By the end of the first half, which at times was tough reading, I wanted to climb inside the book, put my arms around Biddy and protect her from evil Alison Flemming. These strong feelings surprised me as I don’t normally get them for female characters.
The character of Alison Flemming was well written. She was beautiful on the outside but rotten to the core on the inside. She displayed an array of clever bullying tactics; excluding Biddy from conversations, making fun of her in class, playing cruel pranks and making Biddy’s life unbearable.
I wrestled with the urge to climb inside this book and slap Alison Flemming.
Is this book depressing?
No it’s not and this is the surprising thing about this book. The author breaks your heart in the first half with what happens to Biddy. You can almost hear your heart tearing as you read about Biddy’s torment and pain. The red paint episode and the school trip are tough. But, in the second half the author cleverly stitches your heart back up. I am not going to tell you how as you need to read it, but this dark story turns into this amazing and uplifting tale. The ending is brilliant. I was fist pumping and shrieking.
Why should someone read this book?
If want to read about a different sort of female character you should read this. Biddy is a refreshing change from the pretty, glossy haired lead female book characters, who have good friendship networks, shiny careers and suffer a little bit of emotional pain. Biddy is peculiar, she’s got no one to support her and everyday her life priority is survival.
If you are looking for a book to take you on a journey. This book will transport you to some dark places and at times you will just want to go hug another person. However by the end you will feel whole again and like you have lived and breathed something. This is why The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is so magical.
Overall what did you think?
I am so glad I read one of Rosie Amber’s tweets about this book.
For me it has been one of my 2017 reading highlights. I have never experienced such strong feelings for a character before and I shall not forget about Biddy in a hurry.
Stories about weird character rule.
Oh and I also want Lesley Allen to write more books.
I hope you are all reading great books. Have a great day folks!