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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Billie is a non-fiction memoir written by Billie King. The author had to grow up quickly when she was a child. By the age of 10, she was all too aware of the abusive and hostile relationship between her father and mother. Her father was always kind and loving to her and her sister, Nia, but the quarrels he had with her mother always led to violence. The parents would always make sure to get their children safely out of sight within their bedrooms before anything happened, but Billie would worry and feel the need to make sure her mother was going to survive the next battle. Sometimes, her mother would get fed up and take her two daughters to stay with their grandmother in the house on Anzac. It was a wonderful place that felt like country with fruit trees in the backyard and horses nearby. Each time they sought refuge there, Billie would hope that it would be for good and that her father would stay away, but they would always pack up their bags once again and go back to him.
Billie King's non-fiction memoir, Billie, is a ferociously honest and incredibly moving story that gripped me from the very first pages. I found myself staying up later and later as I became reluctant to interrupt her narrative. Billie is beautifully written in a style that makes the reader feel as though he were in the room with the author as she related her life story. While she shares so much of her mother's and sister's trials, and her own disillusionment with the men who eventually betrayed and disappointed her, her story never descends into self-pity or moroseness. She remains steadfast throughout, remaining resilient, resourceful and ready to face whatever comes her way. I was particularly moved by her stories about her Uncle Tee, who helped her and Nia with money for food when there was nothing in the kitchen, who became someone she came to care for deeply and who was redeemed by his increasingly unselfish love for her. While King's been writing lyrics and rap all her life, this breathtakingly accomplished memoir is all the more impressive for being her debut literary effort. Billie is most highly recommended.