Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

My Rating: 5/5

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. (Summary from Goodreads)

When I heard Sophie Kinsella was writing a YA book, I was SO EXCITED. One of my favourite authors (who I've been reading for almost 11 years), writing my favourite age range? YES PLEASE. Then I heard the protagonist is a 14 year old girl with anxiety issues and my excitement went to a whole other level. I had HIGH expectations for this one, and Finding Audrey blew them all out of the water.

I think the best word to describe this book is wonderful. Kinsella brings her signature humor to Finding Audrey which had me laughing and smiling the whole way through. She always manages to put so much heart into her novels and I honestly felt just so happy reading this book. 

Audrey was a fantastic character. I was cheering for her the entire book. She was strong even when she didn't think she was, and so caring. I loved getting to read this book from her perspective. Audrey's family was just fantastic. They were dysfunctional in the best way. Her Mum was stubborn and bossy and cared about her kids so dang much. Even when she was yelling at Frank about his computer or going on "mum-rants" you could tell she did it out of a place of love. The scenes she had with Audrey were so heart-warming, I just loved it. Audrey's dad was a riot. Some of the most hilarious scenes had him in it.Audrey's brother Frank was so much fun. He was a caring older brother, but also a clever and sarcastic teenager. The dynamic between Frank and Mum as well was just awesome. One of the greatest things about this book was how supportive Audrey's family was. Both of her and her anxiety but also of each other. They didn't always understand or agree with each other, but they were always a family.

Linus was another great, supportive character. He was funny, kind of nerdy, and really worked hard to earn Audrey's trust. He didn't walk away or judge Audrey, but stuck by her and believed in her. He fit into their weird family perfectly. 

I knew I wouldn't be able to read (let alone review!) this book without it getting me in the Personal Feels. I'm not entirely open about my anxiety issues (and they differ from Audrey's in many ways) but this book had me looking internally at them. And relating to Audrey so, so much. I find that anxiety is one of those mental health issues that isn't talked about in books often, but affects so many people. And it's hard. I loved that Finding Audrey didn't shy away from how hard it can be to live with anxiety. How much it can affect every part of your life.

There was also an almost unspoken element of bullying in the novel. We never saw Audrey be bullied but the aftermath of it and how it impacted her life. The bullying wasn't sensationalized. Kinsella never went into flashbacks if it or really detailed the extent of it. It was horrible. It affected Audrey severely. That was all we needed to know. I think, for this story, to not have that element was so important. This was a story about Audrey's recovery, her strength and courage and that was really what mattered. It was so important to not put the focus on the bullies, but give Audrey her own voice, let her tell her own story.

Another thing I loved was how Audrey's treatment was normalized. As it should be. I think there's a tendency in some books to perpetuate a stigma around treating mental illness. Words like "medication" and "therapy" become loaded, even though they are a perfectly normal part of treatment. In Finding Audrey, Audrey's treatment isn't some hush-hush, don't-talk-about-it thing, but rather a helpful and healthy part of her life. Dr. Sarah is funny and insightful and completely supportive of Audrey. She tells her hard truths sometimes, but there is an underlying faith there that is so important. I think Kinsella hit it on the nose with this one.

A poignant, touching novel about mental illness, dysfunctional (but loving!) families, and one girl's courage, Finding Audrey was brilliant. Pick this one up for yourself, your mom, your siblings, your friends. Everyone is going to fall in love with Audrey.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

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