Audrey can’t leave the house. She can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.
Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly orange-sliced smile, and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do things she’d thought were too scary.
Suddenly finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.
Everyone loves a Sophie Kinsella book, from her famous Shopaholic’ series to newer titles such as ‘Twenties Girl.’ Sophie’s writing style is fun, easy to read, and has led her to become the quintessential writer of chick-lit. I was therefore intrigued to discover Sophie’s first novel for young adults, ‘Finding Audrey’.
Recently, the subject of mental health, which has often been brushed under the carpet, has become much more prevalent in YA fiction with the likes of ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven and ‘It’s Kind Of A Funny Story’ by Ned Vizzini. Sophie Kinsella’s new novel for teens tells the story of Audrey, a girl, who after months of bullying at school, develops severe social anxiety. Interestingly, Kinsella decided to go down the route of humour when tackling this often stigmatized subject, an approach that some people will love whilst others, I am sure, will hate.
I fell into the first category and found myself laughing the whole way through. Surprisingly, I found myself more interested in the other characters than our protagonist Audrey. For instance, Audrey’s over-the-top mother whose crazed rants and ramblings consume much of the plot. You see, Audrey’s brother Frank is obsessed with computer games, a matter that their mother finds very difficult to cope with. Much of the plot line is taken up with the mother’s hysterically frenzied attempts to curb Frank’s obsession and guide him into a new hobby such as running or making sandwiches for the local old people’s home. In short, she is hillarious and this novel wouldn’t be the same without her.
Although the crux of this story is a serious one, Kinsella has managed to stay true to her light, humorous writing style that so many of her readers have grown to love. I don’t feel the blurb does this book justice and I hope that people won’t be put off reading it due to its serious undertone. The story focuses on Audrey’s recovery rather than the facts behind what made her ill in the first place. The subject of anxiety is one that many readers, including myself, will relate to and is a good insight into how irrational thoughts can take over and completely consume a person. Audrey calls this her ‘lizard brain’ and, throughout the book, works hard to overcome this part of her brain that she no longer holds to high esteem. Audrey learns that anxiety is something that will always be a part of her and that life, like anybody’s, will always have its ups and downs.
I think what I’ve realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all you can hope for. More or less upwards.
This is a highly recommended read for both fans of YA and Sophie Kinsella. I promise you there will be laughter all the way through. A bright ray of sunshine in what could have been a dark, depressing topic.