Sunday, August 23

Book Review: Going Down Swinging

Title: Going Down Swinging

Author: Billie Livingston

Pages: Ebook 268

Summary: A remarkable debut novel and bittersweet tale of the unflinching love and devotion between a mother and daughter. Razor sharp and darkly funny Going Down Swinging chronicles two years in the life of the Hoffmans. Eilleen Hoffman has just told Danny, her con-artist lover and father of her youngest daughter Grace, to get out — for good. Once a teacher, Eilleen lived a middle-class life, but her taste in men coupled with a predilection for pills and booze has brought her down.

Desperate to prevent her family from sinking deeper into poverty, Eilleen reluctantly goes on welfare. Eventually she turns to the only friends she has left, hustlers and hookers, to learn how a woman makes fast money, no investment necessary. With Eilleen on welfare and her older daughter Charlotte a teenaged runaway, child welfare authorities descend on the Hoffmans. As Eilleen trails through several attempts at drying out, the well-intentioned Children's Protection Society finally intervenes to apprehend Grace. With the threat of prolonged separation now a stark reality, Eilleen and Grace must rally to confront their demons with grit, determination and humour.

Unblinkingly observed and brilliantly written, Going Down Swinging is about the powerful bond between mother and child. And with her skilful narrative interplay, Billie Livingston illustrates poignantly how the truth of our stories lies not so much in the black and white, as it does in the grey.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out questionable for me, I was unsure if I would enjoy it, but in the end, I found it be an great read.

It deals with a lot of dark topics, but the author did a fantastic job at showing the characters' stories and how their lives were affected by an assortment of life trials including drug abuse and foster care. The characters are a mess, I became very invested in their lives, wanting to shake them into reality. Which makes the book, such a good read, if it makes you become invested in the characters well being.

The narrative was very different than I've read before, as one of the character's narrative was in second person, which I think it may have been the first time (or at least the first time in a very long time), I've read a book with second person narrative. At first I was unsure if I would like it, but it worked out . I don't think it helped me get into that character's head more, or understand her more, but it did create a very unique perspective on that character's life, and helped create a different reading experience.

I enjoyed the ending a lot. I think it was a great way to end the book, I do think some readers might be unsatisfied with the ending, but I thought it was very fitting.

Despite my uncertainties in the beginning, it ended up being a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, overall I thought the book was a good read and one well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

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