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Being Billy Paperback – 6 Jan 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141331356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141331355
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Phil Earle was born, raised and schooled in Hull. His first job was as a care worker in a children's home, an experience that influenced the ideas behind Being Billy. He then trained as a drama therapist and worked in a therapeutic community in south London, caring for traumatized and abused adolescents.

After a couple of years in the care sector, Phil chose the more sedate lifestyle of a bookseller, and now works in children's publishing. Phil lives in south-east London with his wife and children, but Hull will always be home.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By djdhp on 24 May 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll say upfront that this is not normally the type of book I would pick up - I'd assume it was issue-led and over-serious. Yet it's neither. It's enormously readable, sometimes funny, and it really stays with you after you finish it. Billy's voice is powerful and convincing, yet he's always a teenager - there's no adult author over his shoulder. I think that's what impressed me most. With a first-person narrative, how does an author maintain our sympathy for this angry and sometimes violent boy while he develops and changes? (Let's be honest, if we saw him in the street, we'd probably cross the road!) How does he convey the bigger picture while never letting the focus slip from Billy's view? Phil Earle manages both of these things, apparently effortlessly. As Billy matures, and his view of the world develops, so does ours, and I genuinely cared about Billy. As an adult, I had the same frustrations as Ronnie, Billy's key worker, in wanting the best for Billy - but it's next on my son's reading pile now, and I am intrigued to know whether he will see Billy differently, as a fellow 14-year-old.
I should add that, having read the book ahead of a literary festival, I also thought Phil Earle made a great speaker! I would guess he'd be brilliant with a roomful of teenagers and so I'd recommend him as well as his book, if you're an English teacher or school librarian.
Looking forward to the next book ...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 16 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Billy Finn's been in care for most of his life - taken from a mother who battled alcohol abuse problems and a step-father who physically abused him. He hates the "scummers" (social workers) who sell him lies and platitudes, hates his mother for giving him up for adoption, hates the couple who wanted to adopt him without understanding him, hates school for giving up on him, hates himself for being unable to articulate all the anger inside him. Although he lashes out at the other lifers in his care home and at the carers there - particularly the Colonel, Ronnie, who constantly sticks his nose into Billy's business - he keeps himself together around his twin brother and sister, Louie and Lizzie, determined that they won't lose out in the same way he has.

Then Billy's mother, Annie, decides that she wants the twins back, leaving Billy devastated.

The more he tries to keep himself together for their sake, the more he threatens to fall apart. But then he meets Daisy. A lifer like him, he finds himself drawn to her, experiencing a genuine connection for the first time only to find that Daisy has secrets of her own, which can cost him everything ...

Phil Earle's debut novel is an extraordinary, powerful and unpatronising look at the life of teenagers in care. This is no liberal apology for the disadvantaged - what makes it such an excellent read is that Billy is a completely flawed and damaged person, lashing out at people and property for the sake of releasing the anger within him, even though it ultimately hurts him more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jan on 21 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Billy Finn thinks he is unlovable. He and his younger brother and sister have been in care for eight years, a possible adoption has fallen through and now his newly-sober mother wants to take her two younger children back home - but not Billy. Billy is angry when he discovers that he is about to lose the last two people he cares about and who care about him. He gets into fights, he damages property and generally seems to spend a lot of time on the floor being restrained by Ronnie (aka the Colonel), one of the carers at the home. However Billy certainly is lovable and people do genuinely care about him. It just takes him a while to realise this and people get hurt along the way, most of all, Billy himself. There is a ray of hope when Billy meets Daisy, a girl who is new to the school, but this friendship runs into difficulties and Billy falls deeper and deeper into trouble with his carers and with the law.

Phil Earle's book is powerful and heartbreaking in places, as we can see that Billy does have redeeming qualities even though these qualities are rarely on display to the wider world. Billy needs to deal with his past and move on to a brighter future, but first he has to accept that he can't do this alone and he has to allow himself to accept the help that is being offered. What a great book this is!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By wyksy on 2 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Having worked in residential care I believe this book highlights the issues faced by young people in care and the issues faced by the staff working there. Phil Earle manages to write in a a way that makes you feel you are there. I loved this book and once started I wanted to read more. I hope there's more to come from Phil Earle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah (Feeling Fictional) TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
Being Billy is a book that I've been meaning to read for a long time now, it's come highly recommended by most of my favourite UKYA bloggers and now that I've finally read it I can completely understand why they all rave about it. It's incredibly impressive to think that this was Phil Earle's debut novel and I'm excited that I already have copies of his next three books because I can't wait to dive into them.

Billy is an angry young man, something that isn't really surprising considering everything he's been through, he has spent eight years living in care and he feels that nobody really cares about him. The staff may act like they care but they're getting paid to look after him and he's sure they all forget about him the moment they're no longer on the clock. The only constants in Billy's life are his younger siblings, Lizzie and Louie, and Billy would do anything to make sure they are safe and cared for. He's pretty much given up on himself but he wants the best for them so when social services threaten to separate them unless he starts to behave himself he knows he's going to have to try and do something about his temper.

This story absolutely broke my heart, Billy is such an incredibly realistic character (you can really tell that the author has experience as a Care Worker) and his story really makes you think. It's painful to think of the thousands of children who are in Billy's position, children who haven't had the best start in life and who have been rejected or abused by the people who are supposed to love them the most. It's no wonder that some of these kids fight back to get attention or just don't know how to deal with their anger in a healthy way.
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