‘A stark but uplifting story of bullying and redemption, for anyone who’s ever been a weirdo.
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is the debut novel by Lesley Allen.
I was very lucky to get an opportunity to review this book earlier in the year, thanks to Twenty7 and Bonnier Zaffre Publications.
Today (Nov 3rd 2016 ) is the release of the paperbook version so it’s now available to BUY BUY BUY!!!
Read on for my thoughts on this wonderful book…
‘Almost too terrified to grip the phone, Biddy Weir calls a daytime television show.
The subject is bullying, and Biddy has a story to tell.
Abandoned by her mother as a baby, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time watching the birds – until Alison Fleming joins her school.
Popular and beautiful, but with a dangerous, malevolent streak, Alison quickly secures the admiration of her fellow students. All except one. And Alison doesn’t take kindly to people who don’t fit her mould . . .
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.’ (Courtesy of Goodreads)
In your life, you always hope to come across books that leave an indelible mark on you. The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is such a book. When I first read the story line I knew I was going to be reading a novel that would make me sad but it was a sadness I was willing to bear, as bullying is a subject that I am very aware of. Although, personally, never the victim of such a deplorable act of cowardice, I have two girls and my one fear is always…what if this happened to them?
The main character in the novel is Biddy Weir, a child who was destined to stand out for all the wrong reasons. Her mother had left her not long after her birth, leaving Biddy in the care of her elderly Grandmother and a father, who clearly loved her but was incapable of giving her the care and affection every child needs. Biddy was always dressed in cast offs, with sellotape keeping her excuse of a school bag together. Her clothes were always mismatched, her hair unruly.
‘They were always keeping their money for a rainy day, but even when those rainy days arrived, they still went out with holes in their umbrellas.’
None of the children in her estate or school befriended her, but Biddy could handle that, as she was very comfortable with her own company, never knowing any better. But all this changed the day Alison Fleming started in her school.
‘Biddy Weir was two months shy of her tenth birthday, when she discovered she was a bloody weirdo. The awful revelation was a shock to her at any rate,and from that fateful day Biddy’s life was defined not by her religion, the colour of her skin, or her sex; nor by what school she went to, her political persuasion or even which side of town she lived in: but by her oddness, by the undeniable, irrevocable fact that she was a weirdo, and a bloody one at that.’
These are the words that first struck me as just so sad when I started reading this book. These are Biddy’s thoughts & feelings. From such a young age the new girl in school decided from the get-go that Biddy was a target. Biddy Weir would become Alison Fleming’s Golden Ticket to the number one position of popularity in their year (& school). Alison had come from a very wealthy background. She’s a girl used to getting her own way. She makes Biddy’s life a hell on earth. The taunts, the jeering, the ‘accidents’ that Biddy has to endure are just heartbreaking. Biddy is unable to standup for herself and for reasons I cannot fathom, the system leaves her down completely. It appears Biddy just slips under the radar of every teacher, her father, the local community….the list goes on.
There is a bit of hope given to Biddy in secondary school but Alison quickly sees this light extinguished. ‘…her desolation, her isolation, the heavy mist of persecution that clung to the girl….Biddy was going through the motions of life: alive, but not really living.’
As time passes, Biddy gives up on everything. Her life takes a few twists & turns but the bullying taunts of her years in the education system stay with her for years to come. It eventually takes a kind ear, a person with strength & courage to come to Biddy’s side and offer her the help she so badly needed all her life.
I could quote from nearly every single page of this novel but then I would leave nothing for you to discover yourself. I truly and very strongly believe that this novel should be mandatory in every post-primary educational system….everywhere. Never have I come across a book that I have felt so compelled to share and talk about.
I hesitated today before starting this review, as I felt in no way could I possibly do it justice.
I cannot recommend it enough to both adult & teenager. It is such an important book in it’s portrayal of the horrors of bullying.
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is now available to purchase in your local bookshop or Here
If there was a 6* rating I would give it……I most certainly recommend.
About The Author
Lesley Allen lives in Bangor, County Down, with her teenage daughter. She is a freelance copywriter and the press officer and assistant programme developer for Open House Festival. Following the completion of her degree in Drama and English, Lesley spent several years working in PR and marketing before embarking on a freelance career. Whilst crafting words for other people has been her bread and butter for the past two decades, her heart lies with writing fiction.
Lesley was named as one of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2016 Artist Career Enhancement recipients for literature. She is using the award to complete her second novel.