27 Oct 2015

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne - #SassyBooks October


I really wanted to love this month's #SassyBooks choice, but annoyingly that wasn't to be.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Holly Bourne's previous book - The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting - I thought that Am I Normal Yet? would engulf me in the same kind of relatable understanding of adolescence but in all honesty it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Evie is desperate not to let her mental illness define her, she craves the "normality" that her peers appear to have, but feels like her mind won't let that happen. She's trying to come off of her medication, she's seeking psychiatric help and she's even making friends and getting drunk at parties, all whilst hiding her affliction from her friends.

I am a big fan of Young Adult fiction, I can't quite put my finger on why, but it's one of my favourite genres. Am I Normal Yet? sounded like it was right up my street, but it disappointed me. At first I was glad to see a book covering sensitive topics like mental illness, as well as including a touch of feminism, but to me it felt so juvenile.

The whole book, and the character of Evie in particular, came across as very immature and far too romanticised for my liking. The plot is patchy in places, with some scenes incredibly cringe worthy and somewhat painful to read. Evie seemed self centred and unsympathetic to situations that she really should have reacted better to, and one scene in particular resulted in me disliking her as a character quite a lot. The addition of their feminist club felt shallow and forced, like it was trying to adhere to a trend instead of adding any real value to the story.

Whilst I think this book had a lot of potential, it just didn't reach it. I feel like this review is maybe a bit harsh, as I did give it 3 stars on Goodreads, but it missed the boat for me and I think that needs addressing. I admire the fact that it chose to deal with some important issues that can be so often glossed over in YA fiction, and at points I think it was brilliantly sensitive to these topics.

So, ranting aside I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else thought of Am I Normal Yet?, be sure to check out the #SassyBooks hashtag to see the other reviews.

For November, our chosen book is The Miseducation of Cameron Post:
When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone, and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship, one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she's not quite sure who that is.

Have you read Am I Normal Yet? Do you agree with my review, or do you think I'm being harsh?

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