Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Review for Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne 
Publisher: Usborne
Release: 1st August 2015
Genre: Contemporary, UKYA, Mental Health, Feminism
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she's almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there's only one thing left to tick off her list... But relationships can mess with anyone's head - something Evie's new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won't tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?"

Every so often a book comes along that feels like it was written especially for you, Am I Normal Yet? was one of those books for me. Holly Bourne tackles the big issues that teenage girls face daily: feminism, mental health, friendship and boy drama and shows how these themes are intertwined and affect one another making life as a teenage girl treacherous to navigate.

The book follows Evie’s story as she tries to live a normal life, something that is fundamentally difficult with OCD rituals controlling her. I developed OCD in my teens and although it manifested itself in a different form to Evie’s I found myself nodding along as I recognized the anxiety and intrusive thoughts that Evie had as being similar to my own. Holly Bourne handles OCD compassionately and realistically as we see how the condition affects Evie’s life.

Along with her OCD, Evie is trying to manage the growing distance between herself and her best friend Jane now that Jane has a new boyfriend, as well as dealing with her own boy problems as she dips her toes back into the pool of dating. At college Evie meets two girls, Amber and Lottie, who quickly become new friends as they bond over heartbreak and feminism.

The way that Holly Bourne worked feminism into her story was really well done. Rather than telling the reader about feminism she showed how feminism was relevant to the numerous situations the characters found themselves in making it accessible and relatable to young girls. I loved how Evie and her friends were just getting started on their journey into feminism and so they were each at different stages and continued to learn as they went along.

For me, Am I Normal Yet? is Holly Bourne’s best book to date. At last a YA book has come along that challenges the mixed messages that modern society sends out to girls and introduces young openly feminist characters who I’m sure will become heroes to teen girls everywhere. Am I Normal Yet? is a must read for anyone who recognises just how tough being a girl really is.

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