Wednesday 5 August 2015

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

First and foremost, this was an excellent portrayal of anxiety disorders, with the everyday difficulties, the annoyance of other people's reactions or lack of understanding or over-sympathetic behaviour. All of this is what Evie has to deal with, both at home and at college. 

Evie was brilliant. She was terrified of lapsing but when things became too difficult for her, she developed another sort of OCD to try and bring order to her tumbling life. She desperately wanted to get better but had to learn that she couldn't go through it along. Her parents also had some things to learn; I'm fairly certain her mother, for example, was undiagnosed OCD and dealing with Evie was something that she struggled with, especially if Evie didn't talk to her. 

Evie was chasing something that doesn't exist: normal. Bourne blends the "normal" with the special and what makes being a teenage girl particularly difficult. She also explored feminism and what is means for teens generally and individually. Each of the girls have to deal with boys and how they might compromise on their ideals and what that means for relationships. Evie, Lottie and Amber were all incredible and their discussions on what it means to be a feminist to each of them and how they dealt or might deal with the tough stuff was a strong message.

As for relationships, it took Evie a little too long to realise what most of us come to know as truth: boys are douches. Plain and simple. By attempting to be something she's not, Evie was dealt a pretty shitty hand when it came to boys but the important thing was that she learnt from it and although it was hard, she picked herself back up and trusted her friends to be there for her. 

This is quite easily Bourne's best novel yet. Might have been a tricky subject matter, but it was funny and heartbreaking and thought-provoking, and sometimes a little torturous; all I wanted was to give Evie a hug. Bourne tackles the tough subjects with sensitivity and balance and compassion, showing the hard stuff alongside the easy. A new favourite. 

Published 1st August 2015 by Usborne.

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