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Being Billy

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  486 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Being Billy is the award-winning first novel by Phil Earle.

***Heroic, Phil Earle's hugely anticipated third novel is out on 24 April 2013***

Faces flashed before my eyes.
And for every face there was a time that they had let me down.
Each punch that landed was revenge, my chance to tell them I hadn't forgotten what they did.

Eight years in a care home makes Billy Finn a prof
Paperback, 264 pages
Published January 6th 2011 by Puffin
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Rating details
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This book was fantastic. I think my heart is still pounding from those last couple of chapters.
I don’t mind admitting that the majority of my knowledge of children in care is from reading Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. And I know that might sound odd because Ms Wilson doesn’t really write young adult books, but if you’ve ever read a Jacqueline Wilson you will know that she is not one to shy away from the truth or darker aspects of life because they’re uncomfortable to read. Tracey B
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Harsh, startling, thought provoking, different.

I haven't read a book like this for a long while. And it was so refreshing.

Being Billy is stark and harsh and though-provoking. It makes you stop and think and look at things from a different perspective.

This book is UKYA at its best. It's real, it's gritty and it hits you hard.

At first I thought I wasn't going to sympathise with Billy. He's a bit of a shit. But as I read I discovered that he's a good kid, really. He just hasn't had the bes
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
Being Billy was a very realistic book. It is clear from the beginning that Phil Earle has previously worked in care - the authenticity of Billy and the relationships he has with others is incredible. Though I didn't find Billy completely endearing, I found him to be a very interesting character and I could see where he was coming from in a lot of his thoughts and I could admire the fact that he knew he wasn't perfect and had made mistakes. I adored Billy's relationship with his siblings as it sh ...more
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Sammee (I Want to Read That)
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 everythi
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michelle by: Jo
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Although I am a fan of contemporary novels and recently read another novel set in the UK with a male protagonist (review here), Being Billy still managed to take me by surprise. I was expecting it to be confronting and gritty, it seems to be something the Brit’s excel at, but I was not expecting it to make me so angry or have a protagonist I didn’t particularly like.

I know that sounds harsh, but in my opinion, Billy wasn’t meant to be instantly likeable or endearing. No, he was
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Being Billy was so much better than I expected it to be! I found the description to be only vaguely intriguing and certainly nothing original at all. I didn't expect it to be so engaging and unique! I thought Billy was an excellently developed character and had no problems empathizing with him and his whole situation. While Billy is certainly not perfect, he's still a good person who has just been through a lot. I loved his relationship with his little siblings and I loved that he wasn't afraid ...more
Sammee (I Want to Read That)
4.5 Stars

This really is such a great book! I apologise in advance for my (rather) gushing review but I really did love it.

The story follows Billy, a boy who has been in care for the past 8 years, a 'lifer' as he calls it. He's angry with everyone - the only meaning in his life are his younger brother and sister. Then one night he runs into a girl called Daisy and they develop a friendship. As he starts to open up to her he begins to learn that people do care...and that he cares too...

Phil Earle'
Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this moving and poignant tale about Billy an angry young man who has spent a lifetime living in care.

I liked this book because I thought it gave real insight into what life is like for children like Billy and highlights an issue that many people do not give a second though to. It showed how simply the effect of being in care can affect every aspects of a childs life even affecting their future aspirations and acheivements.

I found Billy as character really fascinating. He had thi
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Wow – I honestly cannot believe Being Billy is a debut novel. The writing is first class and I was moved from beginning to end. I am officially in love with this book.

Being Billy touches on a subject I haven’t read about much in YA literature – children in a care home. Earle writes with a stark honesty and it’s quite clear he knows his subject matter inside out. Some of the little stories within Being Billy’s pages can only be real life anecdotes and they really help to bring the book alive. The
Susan Mann
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was very lucky in winning a signed copy of this book from the wonderful book blog Wonderous Reads.
I woke up at 5am this morning and read this book in one sitting could not put it down
I found it a very emotional book, it gave you an insight into the mind of a 15 year old boy in care. He is aggressive anti- establishment, school, care home etc. The only people he cares about is the twins his little brother and sister.His mother had given up her rights to him and allowed him to be put forward f
Alice Dillon
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't remember where or when I acquired my copy of Being Billy. It was one of those books I picked up on a whim from my overflowing second bookcase (I have three), seemingly magically deposited there. Presumably I've had it for so long I had forgotten all about it. I have quite a few books like that and, being practical, I thought I should either read it now or give it away because I was never going to get around to it. It's a short book and so, even though the blurb gives no indication of wha ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I really thought I would enjoy this book a lot more than this. (As usual, I ramble a lot about characterization, pacing and story execution, so there’ll be sort-of spoilers. I just enjoy discussing character and plot development a lot.)

The story of Being Billy should be something right up my alley, with the angry kid in the care home and his issues and fumbling his way through life and all. It’s generally my type of story and everything. However, very early in the book, only a few
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
I have never cried at a book before. Never.

Until about 30 minutes ago.

Being Billy had me sobbing. (view spoiler)

The plot follows a boy called Billy Finn. He's 15, and has been in care for 8 years. He's brother to twins Louie and Lizzie and he absolutely loves them. He gets very angry, he's violent, and anyone who tries to get close to them is pushed away.

The style o
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Billy is a complex character - living in a children's home - with his younger brother and sister, whom he obviously adores. He is full of angst and anger - very bitter, and tends to hit out at those around him at times. He did not have a happy home life, and finds it difficult to accept the fact that his mother wants his siblings back but not him.
Powerfully written and well worth the read
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My. heart.
Mawa Mahima
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Being Billy: Hitting it Close to Home

Stories about care homes. We Brits love their poignancy, the absolute helpless need of them, and how they teach us how to make a good thing about of bad circumstances...and for all that, Being Billy was awesome!

Sadly, the grungy fairy-tale aspect of these stories aren't true. I haven't lived in a care home, but I know people who have - and I know the scars and wounds that come with them. Writing about children's homes is a very sensitive topic - you don't kno
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
I loved this one entirely. Being Billy by Phil Earle felt real and heartbreaking and I cried absolute buckets for Billy. I knew that this book would probably be sad but I wasn't expecting the shuddering, messy sobs that came out of me while reading this book. And it isn't as if any one major thing happened to make me feel so much, rather than absolutely everything put together makes this book so beautiful and sad and able to pull my heart out and squeeze it. A huge, huge thank you to Puffin for ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't have known anything about this book, let alone bought it if I hadn't gone to watch Phil Earle talk about his Storey Street children's book series at the Bath Children's Literature Festival - and it's five years old now so I'm not sure where it's been hiding from me.

I defy anyone to go and watch Phil Earle speak and not be tempted to buy his whole back catalogue. He was engaging, open, and infectiously enthusiastic. And good with the kids; a breath of fresh air that buoyed me up in a d
Serendipity Reviews
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Being Billy is one of the reasons I love Twitter. If I hadn't been on there, this book would have definitely passed under my radar. Thankfully, I heard the whispers about how good the book was and the more I heard about it the more I wanted to read it. This book did not disappoint!

This book is a gritty, hard hitting contemporary novel that makes Tracy Beaker look quite innocent. If you ever wanted to read about what living in a children's home is really like, then this is the book for you. The m
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Wow. This book was intense indeed. Right from the very start Phil Earle creates in Billy a character so full of depth and complexities and so perfectly crafted it’s impossible to not think of him as a real person and become completely involved with his story.

Everything about this story rings true. Phil Earle worked in the care sector before he moved into book related jobs and this more than shows. He gets how a child in care really does feel; something I don’t believe just comes from the job its
Michelle (Clover Hill Book Reviews)
The cover on this is fresh and bright. Being Billy is a sensitive yet powerful book about a lad in care. He's a 'lifer' and has adapted to his environment. The story is told from Billy's point of view and has some stark insights into how children in care feel they have to act and behave.
This has also been posted on my blog.

From Chapter 1 readers get an immediate sense of anger, frustration and empathy for this troubled and misunderstood boy. He's had to act so tough just to find his place in hi
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Let's say 4.5 stars, because some parts were a bit Mwaaah. But overall this book was pretty good. Completely different from the things I usually read, but still interesting.

We follow Billy Finn, a 14 year old boy who has been in care for the past 8 years. He ended up being a 'lifer' after his stephdad beat him up and his mother was drowned in booze. Together with the twins he has lived and ruled over their new home. But Billy has one problem: he's angry. Not just one-moment-angry, but lifetime a
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fifteen year-old Billy is a lifer. Stuck in the care system for the past eight years he is mad at the entire world. His mother for not protecting him and giving him away. His stepfather for the physical violence he had to endure when he was younger. The Colonel for pretending to care for him only to go home every night after his shift at the care home has ended; home to his real family. The only people he truly and deeply cares for are Lizzie and Louise his ten year-old twin siblings to which he ...more
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Billy Finn has lived in a care home since he was seven years old. His Step-father used to beat him and his mum was always too drunk to look after him and his younger siblings. Billy has anger issues, hates the cares system, school ... pretty much everything really - with the exception of the twins, Lizzie and Louie, his younger siblings. They are the two people in the world Billy would do anything for. The only problem is the social workers want to take them away from him - to send them back to ...more
Shaz Goodwin
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Straight away I have to say I absolutely loved this story. Any book (that isn’t of the romance genre) which involves you so much that you cry ………………. has to have something special about it!

Having worked in the past on the streets as leader-in-charge for a youth work project and for the past ten years working in schools, I can tell you for certain that Billy’s story is the real deal – real life.

The blurb gives you all the background you need and to which the story is built around. I found Billy’
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, abuse
4.5 stars

This was an intense and often heartbreaking reading. It's the story of Billy, a kid that is still 14 years old but has already gone through so much heartbreak and problems in his life, that he can't help but be very angry at everyone. He acts out, he committs petty crimes, sometimes he gets violent, he thinks everyone is out there to get him. Only his two siblings manage to get out of him something different than anger. With them, he's a loving brother, always doing what's best for them
Gail Jones
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Being Billy by Phil Earle. This is another good book. Phil really gets inside the head of Billy who has been in care since he was six years old. His younger twin siblings come into care at the same time and he has been both father and mother to them. Billy is constantly in trouble, but he doesn't mean to be. He is just so full of anger that his mother abandoned him, she allowed her new husband to beat him and now as she has access to his younger siblings, she doesn't want him. He's sick of being ...more
Beth Kennedy
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A coming of age story about a teenage boy in care. There were moments when I found my heart literally pounding in trepidation of what was to come next. This isn't just a book for young adults and teenagers - it's perfect for all ages. Character development is absolutely incredible, leading to some deep life lessons and exposing the cold hard reality that some children in care are put through. The book manages to explore anger in a pragmatic, yet emotional way - the ideal mix when covering a heav ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
First time I saw this on Goodreads, I decided that I weren't interested. After seeing it in my local library and deciding to give it ago and i'm glad I did as some other books have also recently proved.

The book's main character as you may have guessed is Billy. Billy is a professional lifer who has a little brother and sister. Nobody can keep him out of trouble and as we read the book, we start to see Billy develop and as the blur states "He can't be anything else. Can he?" ~ we start to see if
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
Billy is angry, at everything and everyone. At his mum for leaving him and his siblings, at his stepdad for using him as a punching bag, at the social workers at the home they are now living for just being there for their shift and moving on to their next job without another thought, at the other kids in the home for bothering him, at his would-be adoptive parents for giving up on him. But then things begin to change, and with all his anger he doesn't know how to cope.
Well written, reading this
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Phil was born in Hull in 1974, and he studied English and Drama at Hull University. He worked for a year as a carer in a children’s home, then after training as a drama therapist, he worked in a therapeutic community in London, which cared for multiply abused adolescents. Then, changing tack completely, he chose a marginally more sedate life as a children’s bookseller. It was here that he develope ...more
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