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A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was a difficult read. The language was broken down. The scenes created were tough to bear witness to. But, it was invigorating and fresh in its use of language. Many of the books we have read through the semester dealt with found language. Someone else’s words. But instead of that, McBride deals with the internalization of language and trauma.


A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing works with internal language. The “voice inside your head” language creating an interesting discussion on how we think and use language internally. Do we think in full sentences? Do we always catch what others say? How does our ability to speak and think crumble in the face of trauma?


This internal language is played out not only by the speaker, but by the reader. The reader’s own “head voice” plays into the form. The reader’s internal voice gives voice to the speaker’s internal voice by narrating what is being read.


And it gives voice to trauma. McBride expertly maneuvers through rape, death, birth, abuse, and pain through her form of broken (half formed) sentences. Though the story ends in a very structured, straight, timeline of events, it leaves the reader with a very cyclical rhythm. Starting with being given a name, ending with “my name is gone.” Starting with the birth, ending on death. Not just of the speaker, but the book and the trauma endured throughout. There are opposing forces that are speaking to each other outside the broken language of words.

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