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Review: Becoming Lili by Julia Blake

“Never has an ugly duckling turned into such a beautiful swan…

An ugly duckling girl, Phyllis is bullied viciously at school and is unloved at home, a lonely teenager, longing for so much more from life …

Suddenly, a random encounter with a stranger, offers her a chance to have it all … if only she has the courage to change, to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

In the years that follow, as her dreams of attaining friends and beauty are realised, others join her on her journey to Becoming Lili. She realises, even when you seem to have everything, sometimes, the one thing you really want, is the one thing you just can’t have.

Becoming Lili is an epic, heart-warming tale of aspiration, friendship and love set against a backdrop of the vibrant 90’s, and is packed full of unforgettable characters you will instantly fall in love with.”

What I thought:

Unloved and unwanted by her own parents and bullied mercilessly at school, Phyllis’ only real comfort is her grandma. When her grandma passes away, she has no one left to love her. You’d have to be a cold monster not to feel at least a little protective of her! I just wanted to give her all of the hugs and make her all of the hot chocolate <3 I found it easy to connect with her, and was absolutely thrilled when she met Amy and prayed that their friendship would last!

Her transformation from Phyllis into Lili was inspiring and wonderful to follow. I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but I loved seeing how she influenced her new friends in much the same way that one pretty mystery lady influenced her one fateful day in the supermarket. Seeing Lili have such a positive affect on her own friends was fantastic to see, and when Lindy reflected on that it felt like Lili’s story had come full circle. In fact, my favourite scene is at the end when Lili is in the supermarket and feels overcome by a deja vu she can’t explain. It was such an important moment in her life, and that Blake included it was a genius move!

“Boris is another one of Lili’s lame ducks,” continued Kevin.

“Lame ducks?” Martin frowned.

“Lili collects strays,” explained Kevin. “Boris, Lindy, You, Amy and myself, we’re all strays, misfits, broken biscuits in some way. Lili unites us all into something much more.”

Lili has suffered, and knows how horrible human beings can be to each other. Because of this she is the most caring and understanding girl who surrounds herself with others who need the same love she craved before she moved out from her parents’ home (who neither noticed nor cared, by the way).

Lili comes across as incredible believable, and her pain made it easy to root for her. While I questioned her judgement several times, like how quickly she trusted Conrad, I know it’s only because she desperately needed a friend to accept her for who she was, even when she didn’t know herself. The message is clear – it doesn’t matter where you come from or the circumstances under which you were raised; if you want to be a better person, it’s in your own power to turn yourself into anything you want. It might not be easy, but it’ll be so worthwhile! Oddly enough, it also made me want to get a make-over – make-up, hair, clothes, the whole lot. I’m not a girly girl, so when I say that’s odd… It’s odd, friends.

One thing that caught me off guard were the erotic scenes near the end. I wasn’t expecting that kind of plot, which makes this book unsuitable for younger audiences – which is a shame because I think it could have been really empowering to young girls struggling with their own confidence.

The one thing I struggled with was the omniscient POV. Narrators who know everything and switch easily between characters mid-paragraph confuse me too much, and it didn’t work for me here. I’m all for multiple POVs, but not several in one chapter, please.

If you’re looking for a book that’ll make you feel like you can do anything if you just set your mind to it no matter you’re background, I urge you to read this one!


Have you read Becoming Lili, or do you need more convincing? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

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