Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet?

During #ReadORama last week, I picked up Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne! I really enjoyed it and I don't see too many people talking about this book, so I thought I'd write up a full spoiler-free blog review for this title to hopefully help folks decide whether or not they would like to pick it up. Keep reading for more details on what this book is about and my thoughts on this read!

Am I Normal Yet? follows our protagonist, Evie, who is living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. At sixteen, Evie is recovering from a severe OCD episode that put her in the hospital in her early teens and working toward coming off her medication and living as a "normal" teenager. When she begins college (this is the UK, so college = the last two years before univeristy), she's hoping to have a new start to her life - making new friends, dating boys, and being over all what Evie feels is "normal". Because she is striving so hard to be normal, she hides her mental illness from everyone - her friends, her crushes, her parents, and even her therapist - even though she is noticing her old behaviors are creeping back in. This is the story of Evie navigating living with her mental illness while still trying to live her life.

I really enjoyed this book. As someone who also lives with anxiety, I related to Evie on a lot of levels. There are times in this story where Evie would feel frustrated with herself and her mental illness and would question why she couldn't just be "normal" like everyone else is, and I would just be thinking, "GIRRRL I FEEL YOU". When I was a teenager, I was first starting to feel my anxiety for the first time, yet I did not have the language to identify what was happening to me and why I would feel the ways that I felt. I'm sure if I picked this book up as an 18 year old, I would have LOVED it.

This book is an extremely honest look into what it is like to live with mental illness. It puts you right into the mind of Evie, who often feels confused, frustrated, and lost through her recovery journey. It does not hold anything back. This book is sometimes exhausting and extremely difficult to read because you're often questioning along with Evie why some things that should be easy are so much more difficult for her, but I love that Bourne wrote Evie's point of view in this way because that is what it is like to live with mental illness. You are constantly exhausted and are constantly wondering why things have to be so hard when they are seemingly so difficult for everyone else. I'm not sure if Bourne herself lives with mental illness, but it is clear she did her research for this book.

This book is also a great introduction to feminism, especially for teen girls. Evie and her two friends, Lottie and Amber, discuss feminist issues in depth in several scenes which I think is absolutely brilliant. Bourne presents it in a way that doesn't detract from the central story, either, but enhances it which was so important to make it effective. You can see Evie interweave these new ideas into her life throughout the book which I thought was so great to see. Not only is the book a great read to understand mental health, but it's also a great read to understand what it means to be a woman in our society. A+!

As I said above, I think I would have really enjoyed this book as a teenager, and that's because it's written in a really accessible teen voice. There were times when I would get frustrated with Evie and her friends because of the way they would speak to each other, but then I realized that is probably how I spoke with my friends when I was a teenager - constantly ragging on and poking fun at one another, while acting extremely proud and "cool" to save face*. I had to constantly transport myself back to high school and remember how I would act when I was at that age, and then I had a better understanding of Evie and her friends. That's what made me realize I might be just out of the right age range to really appreciate this book. I know 18-year-old Riley would have loved it, though!

I really love that this book is geared toward a YA audience. I think if I picked this up when I was first experience anxiety without knowing what was going on, it would have been a total saving grace when I felt like I was drowning and no one was understanding what I was going through. I hope that teenagers today who are going through what I went through when I was that age are able to get their hands on this book and are able to feel comforted in the fact that there are people out there who get it, that they are not alone, and that there are people out there that will love and support them regardless of what they might be going through.

Overall, I gave this book...
4/5 Stars!

I think this is a really important read for the YA age group and would definitely recommend giving it a read, especially if you're interesting in learning more about what it's like to live with mental illness. This book is the first in The Spinster Club series, and I definitely think I'll be continuing on!

Have you read Am I Normal Yet? What did you think? 
Let me know in the comments!

*I'm definitely not saying that all teenagers act this way, but I can say for myself that I and many of the people at my high school acted this way!

No comments:

Post a Comment