Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Finding Audrey

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 286
Source: Random House Canada
Publisher: Random House Canada
First Published: June 8, 2015
First Line: "OMG, Mum's gone insane."

Book Description from GoodReadsAn anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. 

My Review: Quirky, funny with a good message.  That's what Finding Audrey is all about.

At the heart of the book is teenage Audrey struggling to deal with her mental illness on a daily basis.  Kinsella handled the mental illness aspect in a meaningful, respectful and approachable way for teens.  She enables the reader to get Audrey's take on her own feelings and progress as well as the setbacks she experiences as part of her recovery.  She also shows how Audrey's family, friends and psychologist struggle to help her and shows how differently some people handle, view and misunderstand mental illness.

I have to admit that initially I was surprised (and a little let down) that the triggering factor which caused Audrey's extensive anxiety disorder isn't fully revealed to the reader.  It is alluded to and the reader is given a basic understanding but that's it.  At first this lack of information bothered me.  I wanted to know what had happened but, in the end, the book is about Audrey's recovery so the details about why Audrey is the way she is didn't seem as important the more I read. 

In a recent article in Kinsella revealed why she didn't clearly depict the triggering factor for Audrey's mental illness.  This explanation made me appreciate why she made that decision.

I did consider revealing what happened to Audrey — but then decided against. I feel strongly that if you start to think “This event caused this reaction and was responsible for Audrey’s condition,” you actually relate less to Audrey’s predicament. So many teenagers these days suffer from anxiety, I wanted them to be able to relate to Audrey and not feel, “I didn’t have that event happen to me so I’m not like her.” It is also the case, as Audrey says in the book, that some things should be kept private; they’re not for sharing. I want readers who are suffering from anxiety like Audrey to feel that they don’t have to share everything. It’s important for some things to remain private. Source

Throughout the book Audrey is surrounded by her family members whose dynamics and interactions with each other were quirky to say the least.  They felt like a family you'd know (or are a part of).  They're loud, in each other's business, pretty peculiar but ultimately they love each other.  Audrey's mom is hilarious and, at times, frustrating but for me anyways, she had some valid concerns about 'screen time'.  She definitely had an over-the-top obsessive need to manage 15 year old Frank's video game usage which went into the farcical realm but as a mom of teenage boys myself, I can somewhat relate to her feelings.  I have to admit that I've had similar discussions about the merits of video gaming (although not nearly as wild/bizarre as Frank and his mom) with my own teenage boys.  My boys will be happy to know that reading Frank's reasons for his love of gaming gave me a new point of view that I'll definitely take to heart.

There's even a sweet romance thrown into the mix.  Ahh,l'amour!  When I first read the synopsis I was concerned that it would turn into a 'boy saves girl' issue (of which I'm rarely a fan).  Although love is grand I don't think it can cure acute anxiety disorder.  Luckily Kinsella handled that issue well and gave it a more realistic conclusion.

This was a quick read with Audrey as an engaging narrator.  Kinsella has written a story with some very funny situations but balances the comedy with some tender and eye opening moments that help her readers to understand the complexities of mental illness. While I still consider this to be a light read Kinsella dealt with mental illness in a respectful manner and will hopefully enlighten people about the issues surrounding mental illness.

My Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Canada for providing me with a hard cover copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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