Biddy Weir is a quirky girl.
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.
Because there are a few things about Biddy that aren’t normal, you see. And Alison isn’t afraid to point them out to the world.
All of a sudden, Biddy’s quiet life is thrown into turmoil. If only there was someone to convince her that, actually, everyone’s a little bit weird . . .
A story of abuse and survival, of falling down and of starting again, and of one woman’s battle to learn to love herself for who she is, The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is Lesley Allen’s startlingly honest debut novel.
What does TWG think?
I have had to psych myself to write this particular review due to the nature of the storyline and my own personal memories because of it. It takes a lot of strength to read a novel with contains such emotional situations, especially when those situations are still incredibly raw for the reader.
Meet Biddy Weir; a girl who is extremely content in her own company and enjoys the simple things in life. After all, that is all she has ever known her life to be. Seeing as Biddy was brought up by her father, the ‘basic’ female tasks had to be discussed with someone other than her father. She didn’t have a female role model. She didn’t have her mum. As soon as Alison Flemming came onto the school scene, Biddy’s life got turned upside down and suddenly her life and her thoughts became all too suffocating. The thing is, what exactly can you do when your normal is too abnormal for everyone else…
‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’ has been published in paperback to coincide with National Anti-bullying Month. A subject that has thousands upon thousands of victims and not enough people doing anything about it. As soon as I realised what this book was about, I knew that I had to read it. I also knew that it would be extremely hard for me to do so. Why? Because, like many other people, I was bullied at school from the age of five until the age of thirteen. Lesley’s book has given me nod to write about my own bullying (which I will do later on in the week on here), and hopefully others will realise it is ok to speak out.
Biddy Weir’s life was made hellish all because of one girl and her ‘gang’. The outcome of every single attack on Biddy was jaw-dropping and incredibly numbing, I felt so sorry for her. There were times (most of the book), that I wanted to climb into the book and take her away from it all, try to keep her safe. But I couldn’t. Biddy couldn’t speak out. She needed someone to speak out for her, yet no-one would believe her because they all thought she was a ‘bit weird’. Everyone around her didn’t want to do the right thing and stick up for poor Biddy; instead, they watched/joined in with the ring leader so that they could stay in the gang. I felt physically sick reading what Biddy was subjected to, as well as reading about the toll it took on poor Biddy’s mental state. Absolutely devastating that people get a kick out of physically and emotionally attacking others. How is that fun?
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir contains a lot of hard to read events, most definitely, but the way Lesley Allen has written them is real. Lesley didn’t fluff it up or make the situations completely unrealistic and completely fixable. She made Biddy’s life into a powerful journey. A journey that we, as readers, took with her. A journey that will open readers eyes and minds to the devastating impacts that bullying has on a person, especially as some people believe the impacts to be short-term. More often than not, the effects of bullying can last, and, just like Biddy, the scars never truly fade.
I began reading this book with my eyes and mind fully open to the implications of such a devastating topic. What I didn’t realise was how beautifully and powerfully written this book would be. I don’t want to say that I loved this book due to the subject within the book, however, I did love the book due to the powerful, raw and emotional messages that Lesley Allen incorporated beautifully into it. During the last third of the book I felt like I was getting a pep talk, and not in a bad way. The colourful character that took charge in that third, came with such a strong voice. So strong in fact, I felt as though she was talking to me and having stern words with the demons. If all schools came with such a colourful and beautiful character as that one, the stigma that surrounds bullying would be abolished.
An emotional, powerful and beautifully written book about life, re-birth, bullying and learning how to love yourself, quirks and all.
Thank you BonnierZaffre.
A Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen, published by Bonnier Zaffre, is available to buy now from Amazon UK