I received this book for free from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 25th 2014
Genres: Friendship, Girls & Women, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: Harper Collins
An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.
Review: Courtney C Stevens’ YA debut tells the story of Alexi and Bodee. Alexi has a seemingly ideal life and family, but after something happened to her in the summer she’s faking being okay and relies on coping mechanisms like scratching her next, counting the number of slats in the vent in her room and hiding in her closet. When Bodee, a boy from her school, moves into her family’s home after the murder of his mother by his father the two begin to connect and attempt to reconcile with their pasts.
While the plot itself may seem typical of issue novels, this book stands on its own due to its writing and sensitivity. Stevens approaches difficult subjects tactfully and with Alexi’s secret really examines the impact something like this would have on a person. For that reason it is fairly difficult to read at times and emotional as Alexi’s pain is palpable.
This paragraph does contain big spoilers so please be aware before continuing! View Spoiler » I did guess fairly on what happened to Alexi and who had caused her hurt but this didn’t necessarily take away from the book. However, the ending has left me torn. When everything is revealed Alexi makes a decision to let the person who has abused her go unpunished as long as he leaves town and her family alone. This was difficult to read, as while fairly realistic and I could empathise with her desire for him to just get away and for her to begin healing it was a possibly dangerous decision. This person could go on to do this again and this did not sit easy with me. While many victims do not go on to report their attackers to the police, the fact the person who hurt her was in a position of responsibility and unpunished could continue to work in this field was uncomfortable for me. « Hide Spoiler
That said, Faking Normal was a well-written and poignant debut. I loved that it didn’t rush into the cliché of a sudden romance from the moment they meet that would save both of them and it felt realistic. Bodee was a great character and the more he appeared in the book the more I liked him. He’s struggling himself with extraordinary circumstances and while more subtle his journey was also profound within the book.
Fans of poignant contemporary YA that deals unflinchingly with difficult issues will find a lot to admire within Stevens’ debut.
I received a free egalley from HarperTeen via Edelweiss for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.