Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Deals with mental illness and self-harm)
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
If you’re looking for a powerful #ownvoices book about mental health, then you need this one in your life. Gornall explains in her author’s notes that this is a deeply personal book that she wrote to get her experiences and emotions down on paper. While the plot might not follow her own life, Norah’s mental health issues mirror Gornall’s own and she shows us Norah’s mental state in painful, deeply moving detail.
The synopsis describes the book well, so I’m going to jump straight to my review!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Norah’s voice. This is one of those cases where the MC has an extremely unique voice. Norah’s pervasive illogical thoughts should get tiring, but they don’t. This is because Norah is not as defined by her mental illness as even she thinks she is (something that she learns as the story goes on). While her thoughts are often self-destructive and repetitive due to her OCD, she also has a wry humor that permeates her POV. Norah knows when her thoughts and rituals are illogical and can even poke fun at herself for them (sometimes), but that doesn’t mean she can control them. Norah’s story is fascinating—sometimes incredibly painful but also very hopeful at times. Which brings me to my next point …
- Hope. Norah sabotages herself at every turn, but there is still a yearning sense of hope to the book—the hope that Norah will find balance. That she will find healing but also accept that some aspects of her illness will likely not go completely away, and that doesn’t mean that she is less (or a freak). The hope that she will find happiness. While there are definitely dark moments in this book, the overall message is one of healing, even if that healing sometimes comes in very small installments.
- Norah’s mother. Norah’s mom has got to be one of the most fantabulous moms ever written in a YA book. She is involved and caring but not overbearing. She offers her strength, patience, support and unconditional love (it’s obvious she adores her daughter), and she encourages Norah to strive to get better without pushing her into situations she can’t handle. I basically loved Norah’s mom.
- Luke. Um, again, he’s pretty perfect. He’s the guy that every girl wishes lived right next door. If you don’t swoon over him, you have no heart. The relationship between Luke and Norah develops slowly (and not without lots of realistically awkward encounters), which is just the way it should be. Still, even with all of the awkwardness, the budding romance managed to be adorable.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Nothing at all. I can’t think of anything negative to say about this book. I mean, I did find myself thinking once or twice that there isn’t much of an actual plot—this is a book about Norah’s internal struggle, not about external plot points—but that didn’t stop me from loving every minute of it.
While this is a book about mental illness, it’s more a story about overcoming our demons and the things that hold us back in life … one tiny step at a time.
This book deserves to be the first review of 2017—I’m very happy to be starting the new year out right! I give it an enthusiastic 5/5 stars!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
My name is Louise, and I write YA books. Sometimes contemp, sometimes horror, sometimes thriller. My debut YA contemp, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, will be published by HMH/Clarion (US), and Chicken House/Scholastic (UK) in the fall 2016/17.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is about this chick, Norah, who suffers from agoraphobia, OCD and depression. Her life is one long blur of cheese sandwiches and trash tv, until she meets the new boy next door, Luke, and he starts to challenge her way of thinking.