Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: June 4th 2015, Delacorte Books
Pages: 288 Pages, Kindle Edition
Source: Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 3.5/5 Cupcakes!
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
*Quotes inserted have been taken from an ARC, they are subject to change*
This is somewhat of a rant review. So, just a heads up!
When I saw this book on Netgalley, I immediately requested it and when I got accepted I may have thrown a party and celebrated with a slab of chocolate because this book is a rare book that deals with an anxiety disorder, something that I - and many others - have, and something that isn't written about very often. My good blogging friend Jolien from The Fictional Reader also got accepted and we made a plan to buddy read nearer to the release date, which we did (thanks, Jolien!) and I think we both agreed that it wasn't quite what we expected. It's not that I didn't enjoy this book, because I did and I giggled several times, but I just didn't feel like anxiety was portrayed fully realistically one hundred percent of the time and there were just some things that didn't feel completely right to me. So when I finished the book I felt slightly confused and a bit let down and just looked about like:
Finding Audrey is about 14 year old Audrey who suffers from a social anxiety disorder after a traumatic bullying incident that occurred between her and a group of girls at her old school. Audrey is now home-schooled and resides in her house most days, wearing dark sunglasses to prevent making eye contact with any other human being, even her parents and siblings. She sees a therapist, Dr. Sarah, who has been helping Audrey recover slightly, day by day, however, Audrey feels as if she isn't truly getting anywhere. Until she meets Linus who helps put things in perspective and gives her challenges and helps her overcome her an anxiety and that was part of the problem I had with this book! HAVING A BOYFRIEND WON'T FIX YOUR PROBLEMS.
Anxiety is nothing to joke about, it's nothing to take lightly and that's why I wasn't happy with how anxiety and its recovery process was presented: that meeting a new guy will instantly cure the disorder you're suffering from. There were some things I absolutely loved about this book (Frank, I loved Frank.) and there were things that made me quite frustrated, which I will talk about below!
Firstly, I love that this book dealt with anxiety at all. I've read one other book that deals with anxiety (The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart) and it's not a topic that I see discussed in books frequently. There are more books dealing with depression and schizophrenia and whilst I'm happy that sufferers from those illnesses have books dealing with what they're facing, I do wish that more people would write about anxiety as I think it's something that very many people face and that very many people could relate to. So thank you, Sophie Kinsella, for being brave enough to write about a difficult topic such as that!
For the most part, I really enjoyed the writing. It was light-hearted and riddled with humor that – I won't lie – had me cackling several times throughout! I appreciated that Kinsella wrote this book in such a light tone as many books that deal with illnesses are often filled with dark thoughts and dark words and I appreciated that Kinsella took what would be considered as quite a terrifying topic and made the writing light-hearted and quirky so that readers will feel a sense of happiness and not complete sadness when they finish the book.
I think that Kinsella also wrote about anxiety extremely well for people who have anxiety and I felt so happy that when she described the anxious sensations, I could relate and what was lovely about those accurate descriptions is that it reassured me that the things I've felt are normal and it made me so happy to know that I'm not the only one out there suffering from this and that there are other people who have what I have. So I'm really thankful that Sophie wrote it in a way that I was able to recognise myself and that I could find comfort in her writing.
'I half want to snap, "Shut up! Let me think!" and I'm half grateful for the distraction.'
'They talk about "body language", as if we all speak it the same.'
'My hands are twisting themselves up in knots.'
'I think too much. Waaaay too much. Everyone's agreed on that.'However, I personally don't think that she wrote about it in enough detail for people who don't suffer from anxiety, as the attacks weren't conveyed in a way that would allow other people to understand. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it, but I didn't feel as if it was written in enough to depth for people who aren't a victim from its relentless attack, the full devastating impact of anxiety didn't seem to resonate strongly enough through the story and I think perhaps if readers were given a bit more detail into Audrey's background and the history around the origin of her anxiety, it would help people understand the shift in time from who she used to be and who she is now and the tragic repercussions of having anxiety.
That's one thing I really would've liked Kinsella to include in the story, the event that changed Audrey's life around. There were clues given throughout and what I can deduce from the book is that she had a traumatic bullying incident but I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to know what the exact things that were that changed Audrey. I think if this were included people would've been able to understand why her anxiety was triggered.
I loved the characters, especially Frank and Audrey. Audrey is an amazing main character and I know that we would be best friends in real life. The way she portrayed her family was hilarious, she was kind and forgiving and most of all, she was inspiring due to her unrelenting determination to get completely better. I really loved Audrey as I could relate to her completely. The thoughts that raced through her head “Why do I have this? It's never going to get better. People are probably talking behind my back.” etc, were a lot of the thoughts that have raced through my mind and I really appreciated that Kinsella wrote Audrey's anxiety in such an accurate manner. Audrey also does this thing with her hands when she's nervous and it's something that I do when I'm in a heightened state of anxiety, my hands have to be busy as it helps relieve some of the anxiety. I don't know why it helps, but it does and I'm glad that Audrey does that too as it makes me feel understood and not so alone.
Another character, probably my favorite out of all of them, was Audrey's 15 year old brother, Frank. Frank is obsessed with video games and computers and will go to extraordinary means to in order to make sure he can play his computer games. What I loved about Frank is that he is so genuine. He will speak the thoughts he's thinking out loud, he'll stand up for what he believes in and he is so freaking sassy. Frank is also funny, extremely funny and also extremely smart and the shenanigans that he participated in had me in stitches! Despite that humorous side of Frank, he was also such an amazing big brother to Audrey. He would support her, he'd stick up for her and you could see that he had her best interests at heart. I really loved his and Audrey's relationship and I'm so happy with how Kinsella wrote Audrey and Frank's relationship.
'"You teenagers need sleep. You should be sleeping fourteen hours a night."
"Fourteen hours?" we both stare at her.
"Mum, even comatose people don't sleep fourteen hours a night," says Frank.'
Then there were the parents. I must say I initially found the parents extremely funny, especially the mom. I could (once again) relate to the mom because my mom is addicted to the Daily Mail too! Although my mom doesn't get paranoid about the articles she reads in it, she is addicted to reading to it and I chortled several times because I was like “This. This describes my mom's relationship with the Daily Mail, minus the paranoia.” HOWEVER, the mom's fixation with Frank's video games became a bit too much and sometimes it felt as if that was the main focus, not Audrey's anxiety, but the process of demolishing Frank's computer and his Land of Conquerors team. The mom became way too fixated on it and it got a bit tiresome after awhile. I think perhaps the book should've consisted more of Audrey's journey and less of the mom trying to rid Frank of his computer addiction. However, I did admire Audrey's parents for being so supportive of her illness and doing as much as they could to help her through it. You could see that they really loved their kids and they were doing what they thought was best for them, despite the issue with Frank's computer.
Then there is Linus, one of Frank's best friends, and Audrey's love interest. I really liked Linus, for the most part. He was very supportive of Audrey's illness and I thought their romance started in the most adorable way ever! They wrote each other notes (after their first meeting, that is, where Linus came in unannounced and Audrey left the room because she was having an attack) starting with Linus apologising for freaking her out and so a note exchange began. I absolutely LOVED this, I love that Linus thought about that and that he was supportive and didn't pressurise her into talking to him and I love all the varieties of things he did throughout the novel in order to help Audrey. There was this one part where he says:
“So, just tell yourself to snap out of it. You know, mind over matter.”
And I don't fault him at all for that, because people have said similar things to me. I was really glad that Kinsella fitted this line into the story because it's a response that people with anxiety hear over and over and over again. It's just that people don't understand, heck, we don't even understand! But they try to make it better by giving advice and acting as if it's something simple to “snap out” of and I don't think anyone will truly understand the difficulty of doing that until they've been in the situation and I was glad that Kinsella showed that even the people who are supportive and who really want to understand won't fully get it until they've had an anxiety disorder.
I liked the romance, I really did! I loved how supportive Linus was and I loved how he would write her notes so that she wouldn't have speak to him and how he gave her little challenges to help her tread out of her comfort zone. So I think the romance was mostly done well, however, I did find it went quite fast? Like, it seemed like Audrey and Linus' relationship developed too quickly. Linus gave her a note saying "It's a kiss." which was basically his way of kissing Audrey initially without freaking her out and they had only hung out like two or three times so I thought that was quite forward of him and at first I was worried that he was going to take advantage of her, but luckily he didn't. So I thought the romance was done well despite things heating up fairly quickly after they met.
The plot has aspects I liked and aspects I didn't like. I liked the anxiety aspect (as I've stated before) and I liked the romance as well as the challenges and note-swapping between Linus and Audrey. The documentary thing that Audrey had to do also added a nice touch and gave a more in-depth view into the family and made us really feel like we were part of the family:
"'Oh. You're filming.' She flicks back her hair and pulls her stomach in. 'Well done, darling!'"But there were also parts that I, unfortunately, didn't like. Audrey's mom's fixation with ridding Frank of his computer games almost became the center aspect of the plot instead of Audrey's healing process which took away from the enjoyment of the novel. Originally I found it highly entertaining but eventually it got quite ridiculous and I found myself growing irritated with the mother for acting so insane over a computer.
Another thing that I had a big problem with was that Audrey got better extremely quickly and she didn't have very many setbacks, which is great for her, however, realistically, that doesn't happen. It's a long, long process with generally a lot of setbacks and I don't think that this was portrayed realistically enough, You're not going to just make up your mind that you want to get better and get better fairly shortly after that, it's not that easy. I think this book will give people the wrong idea that people can recover from anxiety once they "want to" but it's really not. that. simple. I also wasn't sure about the fact that she only started getting better once Linus came into her life. I appreciate the fact that he didn't make everything one hundred percent and that Audrey did a lot of the healing on her own, however, it was because of Linus that she started getting better and I don't appreciate that this book sends the message that if you get into a relationship, your health will immediately be restored to the required state. This hastened state was further emphasized by how quickly Audrey transitioned from not wanting to touch anyone or look at them, but then she was kissing him. It felt jagged and uneven and didn't make sense at how swift she was fine to kiss someone when she couldn't even speak to them. Another thing that showed the abrupt recovery, was towards the end when she *spoiler*lost her glasses and afterwards she was completely fine without wearing them even though JUST THE PREVIOUS DAY she wouldn't have been able to take them off.*spoiler* It's just not realistic at all that the previous day you're terrified of doing something but the following day you can then do it without a problem. IT'S NOT THAT EASY.
I really, really, really wanted to love this book so much because anxiety is something is very real and very terrifying to a lot of people and I wanted to love everything about this book that was written for people who suffer from the same thing as I do, but I unfortunately I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I appreciated that the symptoms she described were accurate and that I could completely relate to Audrey as I'd often felt the exact same way and I appreciate the close family bond, the innocent relationship between Audrey and Linus and the light writing, however, the misrepresentation of the recovering process and the reason why she recovered disappointed me and had me lower the rating. However, I did enjoy this book and I laughed a lot and found comfort within the writing, and I applaud Sophie Kinsella for writing a book about anxiety anyway as I often feel like anxiety is an illness that is often ignored. I would recommend this to someone who would like to read a book where anxiety disorders are featured, a book that deals with a dark topic in a friendly way and a book that will make you laugh despite the issues that the characters are facing. A lot of people have enjoyed this book, so maybe you will too!
'I think what I've realised is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn't mater is you slip down. As long as you're kind of heading more or less upwards.'I give it: 3.5/5 CUPCAKES!