Holly Bourne’s ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ tells the story of Evie, a sixteen your old suffering with severe OCD. It’s a story of friendship, feminism, family and finding yourself.
On the 10th July, I became 22. Which actually means that I’m a grown up and do grown up things like sign tenancy agreements and make appointments in banks. Since only getting back into reading in the past year and a half, I am constantly being bombarded by YA (a genre I’d never really explored before) that I HAVE to read. I keep wondering to myself when I’ll burn out. Would I ever grow out of it? Would it stop being relatable? When I first started AINY I thought my time had come. But boy, did Holly prove me wrong!
I was at first struck by the tone of the book. I was thinking “was I really like this at 16?….did I really speak like that?!…” and it almost put me off. I was told my Book Club girls to power though and I am so glad I did.
When reading a book, any book, it’s important to remember that just because an author may write that a character does/says something…they aren’t condoning it. For example, Evie is pretty cruel to someone who also struggles with their mental health. When I read it I was horrified and hurt for the character but really, the author wants us to see how far Evie would go to be seen as “normal”. The whole book is about how she wants to be “normal” and “normal” people are cruel, at least to her. But is being normal actually a good thing for her?
Characters and readers alike are left asking,”what even is normal?”.
Evie is desperately trying to maintain this new version of herself as she starts a new college and this includes drinking (a disaster) friendship and boys. As she desperately tries to hide her OCD, her relationship with her family starts to deteriorate which sheds some serious light at the end of the book. This deterioration in effect, pushes the book into super-speed. The quick-fire action is broken up by Evie’s ‘Recovery Diary’ that her therapist makes her do. This is such a clever device because it sums up how she feels and how she directly ignores the advice from her therapist. Hiding her illness is everything.
Bourne is known in the literary world for her feminist writing. AINY shows Evie setting up a “Spinster Club” with her friends. This has inspired a lot of real-life clubs showing that this novel exists in so many other ways than just on a page. The girls also bring up the “period tax” which I think is a really important issue for teenagers to be reading about/discussing. It’s this feminism which I’m sure will inspire me to read more of her work!
I totally relate to the romance on a personal level. I to have been taken in by the popular guy at college who has actively avoided being seen with me in public. YES it actually happens and it SUCKS and it really makes me sympathise with Evie. Girl, I got your back. This for me, made the book really hit home.
When you reach 3/4s of the way through the book, it all kicks up a notch. Now, no spoilers here but let me tell you…I don’t know what I was expecting but I totally wasn’t expecting that. Holly portrays mental health in a perfect way. It’s not glamorised in any way, it’s true and real and raw and IMPORTANT.
Basically, this book blew my expectations out of the water. I can’t wait to pick up more of Holly’s work. Speaking of which. Holly is super active on twitter and is constantly interacting with her readers. She’s very down to Earth, which is why she was able to write such an intriguing book. You can find her here.
The underlying theme is HOPE. The hope that you’ll be okay, that things will get better and the hope that you’re good enough. For that reason alone, you should pick this book up. Lose yourself in Evie’s world, it’s really eye opening and you will learn things you didn’t even know were there to learn.
I gave this book 4/5 stars. – I just wish I connected with book earlier on than I did.
Thank you lovelies and happy reading! xo