Being Billy
Phil Earle




Eight years in a care home makes Billy Finn a professional lifer. And Billy's angry - with the system, the social workers, and the mother that gave him away. As far as Billy's concerned, he's on his own. His little brother and sister keep him going, though they can't keep him out of trouble. But he isn't being difficult on purpose. Billy's just being Billy. He can't be anything else.

"Being Billy is another book to add to the 'Great Debuts of 2011' list... Being Billy will most probably move you to tears. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, and I read this thinking I'd be immune. Ha! I wasn't, not by a long shot. Billy's voice grabbed me and didn't let go, and his situation was heartbreaking... I could see the lonely-looking buildings and suffocating walls as if they were right in front of me... Being Billy sounds like a serious book, and it is, but it's one full of hope and belief... Add to that the great writing and you really can't go wrong. Even if this isn't your usual reading material, give it a go. It might just knock your socks off." Wondrous Reads
Anice, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Before reading Being Billy by Phil Earle, I was slightly dubious as to whether I would enjoy the book. From what I had heard it was very similar to the likes of 'Tracy Beaker' and was I therefore unconvinced that it wouldn't be an unoriginal spin-off of it. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the book was anything but. Earle's experience in the children's homes sector gave the narrative a fresh and unique perspective and really highlighted important issues that people tend to overlook. The book was a perfect balance or mature themes, plot twists and action, which were all tied together with a genuinely un-put-downable ending. Full marks for Phil Earle! 

Anna, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Being Billy captures emotional turmoil, drama and realistic elements in only a few hundred pages. Billy is a ‘lifer’, he’s been in care most of his life and still hasn’t found adoptive parents. His step-father was abusive and all he has left is his siblings.

 

The book details the daily struggles Billy has to deal with in an amazingly evocative and powerful style and the sometimes wild adventures Billy goes on. It makes you really think what life in children’s homes could be like. The book seems realistic but has enough drama and action to make it quite fast-paced and a good read.

 

The author does not make Billy’s life seem better than it is likely to be and describes everything in gritty detail. I felt I could really connect with Billy, although I had never been in a situation even similar to that of Billy’s. It did take a while to really get into the plot at the beginning but the book was much faster-paced and harder to put down in the middle. The plot does not seem obviously made up, with him having a happy family at the end of the book with a perfect life or him suddenly changing in the middle of the book.

 

Overall, I would give this book 7/10.

Bea, from Wren Academy Barnet

Billy is a ‘Lifer’, a teenage boy living in care. He shouts, punches and kicks his way through life, determined to make every care-workers days a total misery.

 

Even in the first few pages of the book you immediately get a sense of who Billy really is, behind the impenetrable shell and wayward ways he shows to the world. As he breaks into the house that he briefly lived in, just to sleep a night on the bed that was once his, you find that he is not what he seems, and that there may be a sweeter Billy somewhere under the thick skin he has set himself in.

 

He goes through many phases and adventures to eventually find himself. His little twin brother and sister keep him going; as he forges his mother's signature on their birthday cards, you see that all he wants is to protect them, and you watch as he realises that he might be part of the problem, not the solution.

 

Overall I would rate this book 9 out of 10 because I thought it had a good storyline.

Beverley, from Wren Academy Barnet

I got attached to Being Billy and as the first book I read it definitely got me into WeRead. The way Billy suffered as a young child and how violent and aggressive it made him gets you really into the book and makes it very tense. I enjoyed the ending, how everything joined up into a twist. I especially like the end... You really get to understand how he feels and he really hates his anger and hates his life. I found areas where it was a bit boring, though the end made up for that. Though at some places I found Billy reacted in a way I didn’t understand and didn’t do something that could have made his life so much nicer. For example he attacked his foster dad because he thought it was his actual father and he was protecting himself. If he had told the foster parents that, they may have given him another chance. I heard there is a second book called Saving Daisy and I am hopefully going to read that too. 

Binitha, from Wren Academy Barnet

Billy is a lost, angry teenager; he doesn’t have a role model or someone to look up to. He hates care homes, and care workers, he hates pretty much everything. Except his younger brother and sister, Lisa and Louis. Knowing that they are there is the only thing that keeps him going.

 

This teaches you about what really goes on in care homes, and how the system really works. Billy used to get into a lot of trouble until he met Ronnie. Ronnie is Billy’s senior care worker, and together they start to work things out.

 

Billy’s true self is vulnerable, caring and loving, but all the things that have happened to him change that, making him angrier. He makes another friend, Daisy; it was a true genuine friendship, through all that, and their friendship gets stronger.

 

This book is a serious one. It is about hope, belief. It shows you how some teenagers/children suffocate under everything that happens, and all the changes. I would recommend this to everyone: even if you think you won’t like it, just give it a try, because it is a really great book.

Charleigh, from Wren Academy Barnet

I think that Being Billy by Phil Earle is a brilliant book. It is not a normal book as it hooks you in so you can’t escape and you’re drawn in reading more, more and more. It is a great book, a brilliant and an amazing book and when you read it you really understand all of the book - it can make you sad, it made me cry. I really think that this book is a brilliant book and I recommend you read it because it’s a great book and you understand it word by word (but it does have a little bit of bad language). If I had to chose a good book, it would be this one.  Being Billy gets 10 out of 10.

Conal, from University College School London

This book is about a boy called Billy who was given away by his mother and grew up in a care home. He finds life in the care home very difficult and often gets himself in lots of trouble. This trouble is caused by the fact that he often gets himself into fights with most people he meets. Billy has one younger brother Louie and a younger sister called Lizzie, his younger siblings are about the only people he doesn’t get into fights with. The book describes Billy’s life for a few years, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.

I did not like reading this book. I normally enjoy reading a book that has a clear beginning, middle and end, this book was not like that. At the beginning you were just thrown into the story, there was no build up to Billy getting pinned down by the colonel, his main carer in the care home. I thought that most of the book was very repetitive. Even though Billy was in a difficult situation I didn’t feel any emotions for him. As I was reading the book I did not pick up on any sort of plot as the story progressed. I got bored towards the end of the book because of its repetitiveness.

I found the writing style to be very good. The way the author describes the fights is very realistic, it seems to me as though he has studied fighting. The author used a lot of swear words that I could imagine a teenage boy saying when he is angry. I thought he balanced the use of dialogue and description very well. I thought the language used was very universal, I could not tell where Billy was from.

I would recommend this book to people in their teens and up as it has an awful lot of strong language in it. This book would be particularly good for people who like reading biographies as it is written in this style.

Conor, from St James Catholic High School

AWESOME. AWESOME. AWESOME!

This is a totally believable story; I stayed up all night to finish it.

Basically, it’s about a boy called Billy, who has been in a care home for 8 years. He feels as if the chances of him being fostered or adopted are passing him by.

He cares for his younger brother and sister in the home. When his newly sobered Mum wants to take the 2 younger children back home, he is apprehensive that it will work out. He feels that he is about to lose the two people that he cares about. This is the last straw for Billy; he gets very frustrated, angry and sometimes violent. But I can totally understand how he feels, and relate to him. THIS BOOK IS TALKING TO ME!

Billy cannot accept the fact that people love him. His care worker, Ronnie, comes over as hard and uncaring, but underneath the hard exterior is a softie, who only has Billy’s interest at heart.

Billy finds it hard to form relationships, and to learn how to trust people, even with his sort of girlfriend Daisy, a new girl at the school.

This book may sound depressing, but it isn’t. Humour and sympathy is dispersed throughout.

Ronnie transforms an old garage into a boxing gym, as a gift to Billy. Ronnie becomes his sparring partner and encourages him to hit him as hard as he can. Billy retorts “You want me to punch you… that bit I understand - What I don’t get is why?” At the end of the session, Billy slumps in Ronnie’s arms gasping for air, Ronnie grips him hard around the waist, and for the first time in eight years he doesn`t shrug him off.

When Billy meets Christopher, head of child care services, he asks him how is it for him in care and Billy replies “‘slike Disney World. Everywhere I look I see Mickey Mouse. Christopher strokes his chin, for dramatic effect, you’d have thought someone had just explained the secret of eternal youth, not read out my admissions report.”

Having read this book, I am going to persuade the Librarian to arrange for Phil Earle to come to our school library for an author visit.

This is the first of the weRead books that I have read, bring on the next five!

Emilia, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

I loved it! Earle’s approach to literature is so fresh and interesting. I was hooked from the very first page, and could quite literally not put it down. The topic itself was so different, and although it is a subject that I rarely read about and know little of, I still felt extremely drawn to Billy, the main character. I found that, through Phil Earle’s writing, I could really relate to the emotions Billy was feeling and truly felt like I was there. The book was powerful and thought-provoking. A book whose plot, and characters will stay with me for a long time.

Hannah, from Wren Academy Barnet

Being Billy written by Phil Earle gave me an interesting insight into the life of a young child who lives in a care home. The story follows Billy, a boy who has been in care for the past 8 years, a 'lifer' as he calls it. He is aggressive, anti- establishment, anti-school and has a deep hatred for the system. This anger is taken out on everybody. Throughout the novel it unravels that Billy does have suppressed emotions that are revealed through him meeting Daisy. 

 

It is the realism that makes this book so interesting. Yes, he seems like the typical teenager who is always angry; but when we learn why, we find out that Billy is more than a two-dimensional character. 

Ivan, from University College School London

Billy Finn is a young teenager who has spent eight years of his life in a care home. He is full of anger at everyone. He fights with the other children, and he was angry at the couple that adopted him and sent him back as he made their lives awful. But one day he meets a girl who was from the same background as himself, and who helps Billy understand that he needs to stop fighting.


I would recommend to children older than eleven years. Rating: 4/5

Jaimini, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Being Billy is a touching and honest account of what happen to kids when society gives up on them. It was incredibly refreshing to read as a real boy was set to face real life problems alone. His strong relationships with his younger brother and sister are his only joy. Though Being Billy has a lot of strong points, the book is so focused on Billy’s anger and quest for revenge that at times it is exhausting. Being Billy is a total page turner, authentic and gritty.

Jeronee, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

The scene where Billy is with the twins is where Phil Earle reveals another side to Billy. The side where his compassion, wisdom and brotherly love for his siblings is shown.

 

This is definitely a book about redemption and helps us to gain an overall insight into life of those without loving families to care for them. A life where they are forced to fend for themselves, which is why it is hard for Billy to grow accustomed to Ronnie. Through Billy, Earle helps us to relate to others in that situation as well as helping us to understand.

 

It is a book that is worth reading and I would with no reservations recommend it to others.

Kesem, from De Shalit Aleph School

From the six books we could choose to read, I decided to read the book Being Billy. Being Billy is a very special book about a teenage boy who had a hard life and lives in a [care home] with his 10-year-old sister and brother - "the twins". Billy is really angry with his biological mother, who didn’t take care of him and didn’t stop her drunken boyfriend beating Billy all the time. He is also angry about his previous adoptive family, Jann and Grant, who send him to a [care home] because of something he did but not on purpose. 

One day, Billy met a new girl at school, her name is Daisy. They started to be good friends, and Daisy really helped Billy to deal with his life. But then, when everything seems to be good, Billy discovered something bad about Daisy. 

I like this book a lot, it's so different from all the books I read in my life. But this book isn’t good for everybody. This book is deep, it's for people who can deal with this emotional story. For these people, I highly recommend this book. 

I am giving 4 out of 5 to this book.   

Khadija, from Copthall School, Barnet

Being Billy was written by Phil Earle. It is a book about a 15-year-old boy who is called Billy. He has been in a care home for 8 years and is not a likeable person in the beginning of the book. This is until you realise that it is not his fault and that he is just angry at the world. He is angry that his mum was too drunk to look after him and his younger sisters, he is angry because his stepfather used physical violence on him when he was just a little child and he is angry because he thinks the colonel just pretends to care for him. Billy just feels angry, alone and scared. The part in the story that brings a tear to my eye is the fact that he stays outside his little siblings’ bedroom door when they cannot sleep, reads them a bedtime story and tucks their duvets under their feet every night so they don’t get cold; he even sits outside the bathroom when they are afraid that any of the other people who stay there will open the door when they are in there. He does not just act like a brother to his little siblings, he is also like a mother and father to them. He tries to give back what they missed out when they were younger. He feels like it’s his priority to look after them.

 

What made me really angry is the fact that Billy was rejected twice. It is horrible that someone can first say they want you and then turn around and say that they don’t. What also brought a tear to my eye was the fact that his mother has access to his younger siblings and just makes him feel unwanted. Then one night he runs into a girl called Daisy and they develop a friendship as he finds out that they are more similar that they thought.

 

Phil Earle is an incredible author as he makes us step into the mind of 15-year-old Billy more than any other author. You can also see this actually happening as after doing some research I found that Phil Earle actually used to work in a care home so he has some sort of understanding which has now made me understand what it is really like. It is a thrilling tale that had me at the edge of my seat. I’d recommend this book to almost anyone because the language is clear while keeping the story exciting and gripping.

Kirijana, from Copthall School, Barnet

When I read the blurb of this book it gave me an idea of a normal boy but like Tracy Beaker.  But when I read the book my idea changed. This book made me feel sad at the end but the story was really interesting. This story is mainly about a boy called Billy Finn who has to live in care. He doesn’t really like being in care and gets really angry with the caretaker and the mother that abandoned him. He also has to keep his twin brother and sister safe from his mother and caretakers. My favourite character is Billy, even though he caused a lot of trouble - he still does what he should and is also very brave. The author of this book made sure that we know how the characters are feeling and what they are thinking. This book was enjoyable but also really sad at the end.

Lilly-Anne, from Wren Academy Barnet

I found Being Billy brilliant! It was an extremely interesting book as I know that many children can relate to it, this made the book seem real. It was quite sad at times, also shocking as you never knew what Billy was going to do next. It was never predictable, so I never knew what was coming next. This made me hooked and I had no escape. I really understood the book as most of the characters were children my age, so I understood how they might have been feeling during different events. The theme of the story is true as there are children who live tough lives in care homes. This really made me feel like Billy was real and that I was part of his story. Altogether I fully enjoyed the book and thought that it was very good and easy to understand.

Lily, from Wren Academy Barnet

I’m not going to beat around the bush: at first, the protagonist Billy made me want to scream. He sent me into fits of rage. I found him incredibly unlikeable at first – so destructive and full of anger. It irritated me the way he took out his anger on those around him, yet there was still something compelling to him. An underlying intrigue. The more I read, the more I was able to scratch the surface of the character. The aspect that was so compelling about him was how real he was. You really do feel reading the book that you can connect with Billy. Although you may not be a ‘lifer’, you are able to see how he has been let down by the system, leaving him, like many would be, angry. Everyone knows a Billy: a loud, angry, irritating, perhaps misunderstood person. But Billy doesn’t mean to be like this, he’s just ‘Being Billy’. ‘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.’ Fine, I’ve never punched anyone out of anger, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt that same way - let down, annoyed and wanting to be heard. Billy turns out to have a very different, caring and loving side to him, surprisingly intelligent too. A boy with a lot to say, but with few who will listen to him.

 

I think one of the reasons why the book is so good is because of its author Phil Earle. He approaches the delicate subject with such understanding and sensitivity, giving a voice to those whom we do not hear. It’s extremely honest and down to earth, it doesn’t sugar-coat the story which is so refreshing. We don’t know what will become of Billy or his siblings; it’s bleak, one can imagine, like reality.

Lylah, from St James Catholic High School

The story of Being Billy is just how I first started in care when I was eight years old, with my brother who was 10 years old; we both lived together in care. But my brother will be leaving soon because he is going to be 18 next year.

This book is about a boy in a care home who lives with his brother and sister who are younger than him. His name is Billy Finn and he is a lifer who lives with “scummers” in the care home. He is an angry, scared boy who only cares about his brother and sister. Billy does not like his mum because she gave him away because she was an alcoholic and she cares more about the bottle and her boyfriend than her own children. I was just like Billy: I was scared and angry and blamed my brother and mostly myself. But Billy has people who care about him like the Colonel but he cannot accept that the people he lives with really care about him. 

This is a real winner.

Mark, from University College School London

Phil Earle is an amazing writer and he really puts a lot of effort into his books. He describes the storyline of an abandoned boy as if he were really there! As you read the book Earl manages to get the image of the boy in despair clearer and galvanises you into supporting this boy like a friend, by employing very emotional language. The author makes you experience the sadness of the boy as Billy’s past haunts him, always leaving him in somewhat unenviable situations. He uses common-folk language to make the story much more realistic and believable, connecting with the reader.

Billy Finn is a desperate boy, his father on drugs, abandoned by his mother, the only reason that he holds on to life are his two siblings: the twins, brother and sister who are young and can’t yet look after themselves. Stuck in a police controlled orphanage and held under constant restraint, Billy is swamped by loneliness and grief. His thoughts haunted by his parents, his life is continuous struggle, with no one to turn for help to, especially when his replacement father at the care home plans on returning the twins home to their malicious mother. If that happens, Billy Finn will be dominated by destructive rage. Can he control himself with his reason for life departing, as out of nowhere his past surfaces?

I would give this book a 6.5/10 rating. I really enjoyed reading this book as it was so close to reality I felt I was there!

However, the book used very ‘strong language’ on numerous occasions throughout. The book also made me feel violent...

Melissa/Shreena, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Being Billy is a captivating book, it is easy to read but also very intriguing. Billy lives in a care home and hates all of the social workers and care children. The only people who keep Billy sane are his younger brother and sister though they can’t keep Billy out of trouble. He blames his mother for abandoning him and truly loathes her. Billy finally finds someone who he can relate to, a girl called Daisy, though she has secrets of her own!

Michelle, from Jewish Community Secondary School

I loved the book Being Billy because it was heart-warming and really touching at points, but at other points it was action-filled and exciting. It was a perfect mix. I also really enjoyed the end as it was very fast-paced after Billy got... I honestly couldn't tear myself away from the book at that moment because I was so hooked! 


This book is one the best that I've read so far, and I am extremely excited to meet the author Phil Earle because I want to ask him what inspired him to write this story. Is it true and did this happen to him?

Misao, from Wren Academy Barnet

Being Billy by Phil Earle is a good book that is powerful from the start to the very end. It is about a teenage boy called Billy Finn, who has been in a care home for the past 8 years.

 

What is good about this book is that Billy is not a total troublesome juvenile who just goes against all the rules of the care home and society, but also has quite a sensitive side, which is evident when he sneaks into his ex-foster parents’ home and calling it his “home”. For me, his personality added something interesting and kept me reading to find out more about him.

Also, I thought that it was great that we could see what other characters were feeling or thinking through the narration by Billy, who doesn’t always know what other people are actually thinking of him. For example, I could see that the colonel of the care home cared about Billy as much as he did his own son through Billy’s narration.

 

The only thing I found tricky about this book was that we only began to see what had happened to Billy and other people in the past when we read into the middle of the book. So at the start you may find it a bit hard to get what is going on, which I did. Nevertheless, this may also be why the book is so page-turning. 

 

Above all, I think Being Billy is a good read that keeps you reading all the way though. So I would recommend it to those who like moving and powerful stories about people.

Oliver, from University College School London

Being Billy is an emotional roller coaster of a book, revolving around the life of a boy who has been in care for 8 years. Billy’s mother is a recovering alcoholic with an abusive boyfriend - Shaun. Billy has two younger siblings, twins, called Louie and Lizzie. The book throws you straight into the average day in the life of Billy Finn. He has broken into Jan and Grants house (his ex- foster family) only to be met with the strong hands of the colonel pinning him to the floor. The colonel, one of Billy’s carers, is a key figure throughout Being Billy. His presence, although not appreciated by Billy until towards the end of the book, proves as some reassurance to Billy, as the Colonel is one of the only people he can really depend on in his life.

 

Billy’s life has been on a downward spiral; he was rejected by his foster family Jan and Grant, for the second time in his life. He is constantly getting into scraps with other ‘lifers’ in the care home; he appears to have no real motive in life, no hope. The only people keeping him going are the twins, who throughout the book Billy demonstrates kind-hearted emotion towards. This unfortunately cannot be said for much of his attitude towards other people in the book: ‘pinning his arms with my knees sitting on his waist to disable his legs, I leaned over him, spitting angrily while backhanding him several times a sentence’ shows the potential violence and destruction Billy is able to cause, his aggression fuelled by the image of his Mum’s boyfriend, Shaun.

 

Being Billy is not based on the story of an individual but hundreds of kids across the country who suffer from the exact same problems as Billy. This book is not only a brilliant, thrilling read, but also exposes how some children live. The author Phil Earle worked for a short period of his life in a care home; what he saw inspired him to write the book. From the book it seems that ‘lifers’ don’t demonstrate an interest in doing well in life; there appears no goal for them to work towards, and they accept the fact that like many they will have to face the decision of going into poverty or ending up in crime. These children cannot help it, they just aren’t given the opportunity that many kids are to become successful in life. This is why the book is called ‘Being Billy’ because Billy just can’t be anything else.

 

As you read further on in this book of twists and turns you will discover that Billy does find some reason in his harsh life, in a girl called Daisy who is also a ‘lifer’, who Billy feels he can trust. Billy reveals some of his deepest, darkest secrets to Daisy; once these thoughts are exposed and out in the open they drift away from Billy. He finds himself no longer haunted by as many things as he was. There is a brilliant twist towards the end of the book, keeping you reading avidly right up to the very last line, where you feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment that the book has finished. At the end of the book Billy ends up in more or less the same position as he starts the book but with a glimpse of hope, some light at the end of the tunnel or as Billy puts it, ‘After all, there was now a single star, shining from my ceiling, that wouldn’t ever let me forget’.

Patricia, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

I thought that Being Billy wasn’t  going to be a very good book as it has been compared to Tracy Beaker, but after a full 24 hours I had completed a book I was happy I read.

 

Billy Finn is a teenage boy who lives in care with a younger brother and sister who often see their mother without Billy. Billy isn’t a likeable character at the beginning of the book but there is something about him that makes you want to keep reading.

 

Billy is a typical child in care, full of anger that is taken out on all around him. His main target is the ex-army man the colonel, but even the other care workers and even the other children in Billy’s care home seem to be caught in the crossfire of his anger against authority. 

 

I really cared about what happened to Billy, and had to read on. A memorable book.

Raz, from De Shalit Aleph School

 

Being Billy is a book of a “lifer”, told through his eyes. Billy is mad with everyone and everything, except his younger twin brother and sister, who keep him going. At the beginning of the book, Billy’s life is hard and he blames the people close to him for it. But as the story moves on, Billy starts to understand that the only problem keeping him from moving on is himself.

With the help of Daisy, his new best friend, Ronny, one of his carers, and the twins, he manages to cope with the fact that they (the twins) will be taken away.

At the last moment, Billy finds out that the person he trusted most betrayed him. But there is even bigger bad news coming his way. 

The story of Billy gives a new perspective to life. Once you get into it, there’s no going back for the feeling of abandoning Billy. I would recommend this book to everyone who is feeling a bit lousy or whose luck is not going his way. 

Over all, this book’s “unputdownability” is five out of five. Even though this isn’t my favorite genre, I think that this can probably be one of the best books I ever read, and I guarantee it will be for you too. 

 

Robert, from University College School London

Being Billy is a book about a fifteen-year-old boy who is living, and has been for the past eight years, in a care home. His mother had to give up her rights for him, his brother and sister because of a drinking problem. He is full of anger and is always getting into fights but he finds the will to go on from his younger brother and sister who he takes care of, and lives with, in the care home.

When he gets fostered he has to leave his brother and sister behind, but soon the foster parents give him back because he is ruining their lives... Eventually he starts to realize that not everyone and everything is how it seems and starts to see hope.

Being Billy Is quite a good read and I would recommend it for boys of the age of 10-12.

Sam, from University College School London

This book is about a ‘lifer’ (foster child) who tries to escape his horrifying past with Shaun, who is anything but a father to him. His constant failure with foster parents means that he never has anyone to confide in, and he doesn’t like or trust carers as he thinks that the only reason they are there is because they are paid, not that they care. At first Billy tries to make friends and fit in, but he gave up after being moved around so much. If it wasn’t enough already, he guides and nurtures his younger brother and sister safely, in hope that they will be better off than he is. He does this to an extent as he leads by example, saying ‘Not do what I do’, but ‘do the opposite of what I do.’ For example, when Billy knows there is no hope for him, he tries to get his brother and sister to make friends, and generally try to be fostered.

When it is clear that his mum is hoping to take back the two younger children, but not Billy, he hits an ‘all-time-low’. The idea of it only being him alone in the world takes its toll and he doesn’t know what he might do. To put it bluntly, he is terrified by the possibility.

"Eight years in a care home has made Billy become a professional lifer. Billy is angry with the system, the social workers and the mum who gave him away. As far as he is concerned he is on his own. His little brother and sister keep him going but they can’t keep him from getting into trouble." That is the blurb. I think it provides a lot of insight of how he is feeling, but at the same time doesn’t give away the plot. The “scratches” on the cover of the book remind me of the scratches on the side of a bus stop, which is one of the actions Billy does in order to ‘let off steam’ and clear this head. The image of the running man leads us to remember how Billy is always running from his past with Shaun and his future without his brother and sister.

At the end of the book he might find someone to trust after all.

Sarah, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

This book is brilliantly written with lots of feeling and true-life qualities to it. Phil Earle did a wonderful job of creating a fantastically real-life character. Tripwire-tempered Billy has to deal with the constant annoyance of other kids in the care home, his unpredictable and former alcoholic mother wanting his twin brother and sister back and the new girl Daisy, why is she so familiar? The book is unbelievably sad in places and incredibly amazing. I would suggest it to anyone no matter what types of book they like.     

Yotam, from De Shalit Aleph School

Being Billy is a book that strikes you in a way that few books can, and it is without doubt one of the best I’ve read. It gripped me completely by the third sentence, and placed me beside Billy Finn throughout the whole story, while he battles with his difficult and complicated story.

 

While Billy’s life is generally miserable, being a “lifer”, things are about to get much worse for him, as the two people he cares most about (or rather, the only people he cares about) are about to be taken from him. His previously deranged and alcoholic mom is now claiming that she is finally ready to take care of his brother and sister again, a fact that Billy doubts, to say the least. Billy decides to take matters into his own hands, and decides to prove to his psychologists, Child Services, and the people in his care home, exactly how untrustworthy his mother is.

 

Unsurprisingly, things aren’t going to be so simple for Billy. He is unable to forget his traumatic past ... as well as moving in to his first “real” home, with two people who really cared about him, whom Billy just couldn’t understand and was incredibly mean to. These events have left Billy with a rather troubled personality. He trusts no one, and he is generally unable to make friends.

 

There is one exception, of course, and that is Billy’s brother and sister, more commonly known as “the twins”. Billy is kind and gentle to them, makes sure they are happy, and comforts them when they are scared. In short, he is the father they never had. The threat of them going away with one of the people Billy despises the most ... is a cause of great distress to Billy.

 

Billy finally gets a break when he meets Daisy, a girl who seems to understand him and helps him prepare for the inevitable departure of the twins. However, as Billy learns more about her, he discovers that they are more alike than he assumed at first, which leads him to a discovery that both angers him and surprises him very much.

 

The story manages to stay immensely climactic from the beginning until the very end ... The writing is clear and focused and while there is some strong language in the book, I personally felt that it was appropriate as part of Billy’s world. There are also many more twists and surprises hidden inside which I would never have time to mention. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

 

 

Yumna, from Wren Academy Barnet

Being Billy is a heart-warming story of a boy's life in care; you wouldn't think a child would survive it the way it is described! The struggles the children bear are unimaginable, the emotions the characters feel are so vivid. I loved this book! It makes you realize that if you have a loving family or a home, don't take it for granted. Phil Earle really goes into detail with all the lives of the characters, each one as sour as the other; at points I actually cried (however I do that quite a lot when a story becomes too sad). I'm not too much of a fan of violence but in this book it was all I wished for, I kept hoping that horrid people would be punched into a coma or kicked until they bled and I do not wish for that often. This story brought out a different side to me, I think it might do that to others and I recommend all to read it.