Publication Date: August 1st 2015
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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?
As you may know if you have read my favourite books of 2015 blog post, Am I Normal Yet? was one of my absolute favourite novels of last year. You may also be wondering, Shannon if you read that book back in October of last year, why on earth are you only writing a review now?! Well blog reader, the answer to that is that I kept putting off this review to formulate my thoughts in a comprehensible manner as I did not want to be a mess of emotions just yelling at you to buy this book!
I picked up this novel before attending Dept Con 1, a book convention where Holly Bourne was speaking and signing her novels. I did not know much about this novel before reading it apart from the fact that lots of people on twitter, including my wonderful friend Cooleen, had read and adored it. I went into this novel expecting it to be good, but I was utterly blown away by how incomprehensibly fantastic it was!
Am I Normal Yet? tells the story of Evie, a sixteen year old girl with mental health problems that wishes to just be a "normal" teenager. The novel goes through so many themes from family life to school to fitting in. Some of the most prominent themes in the novel is friendship,mental health and the concept of what "normal" is.
Evie desperately wishes to be "normal", to escape stigma and people pitying her when they find out about her mental health issues. She wants to find a good group of friends, go to school, create relationships and fit into everyone else's concept of "normal". When you finish this novel and walk away from it, the reader is left pondering the concept of normality, what is normal? Is normal overrated? Does the concept of normality even exist or is it just a term others use to make themselves feel more comfortable when others do not fit into their idea of what the status quo is? The way this novel makes you think, and want to discuss issues was one of my favourite aspects of it. I have had so many open conversations with my friends after reading this novel.
The characters in this novel were nothing short of utter brilliance. Although the characters are not all saints, some are flawed, selfish and do not always make the best decisions, they are so three dimensional and real. Holly Bourne really captures what is it to be a teenager in this novel. From insecurities within friend groups to all encompassing intense female friendships, this novel just completely resonated with me.
Evie's friends in this novel were amazing. I really enjoyed Evie's confusion as to how to remain friends with Jane, an old friend, as Jane spent very little time with anyone other than her boyfriend. I loved Evie's relationships with Lottie and Amber and how much a close knit friendship they formed. Their friendship was so real, honest and caring for each other that I wished they could jump from the page and be-friend me.
I also really enjoyed reading about the other characters, such as Sarah- Evie's counselor, Oli, Evie's family and Guy, who I admit I fell for!
Am I Normal Yet? also provides a harrowing, no rose tinted glasses or sugar coating look into the life of someone living with a mental illness. The novel shows how mental illness is not something to glamorise even though it often is in media, it is a serious thing which people who suffer with it have to cope with every single day of their lives.The good thoughts and bad thoughts boxes in the novel also really put the reader inside Evie's thought process. Although reading the very graphic descriptions of Evie's OCD and condition can make for uncomfortable reading, it really does show the reader just how difficult living with a mental illness can be.
Am I Normal Yet? is a novel that I think should be read by all teenagers and adults. Holly Bourne writes with such extreme clarity about friendship, mental health, fitting in, family life and feminism that I feel this novel is nothing short of important. (Also how cool was Lottie, Amber and Evie's feminist Spinster Club?!).
If you are looking for a novel which features all of these themes, gives you an honest look into the thoughts and emotions of a teenager and will make you laugh / cry / think in equal measure, please pick up this amazing novel. You will not regret it!