Genre: YA Contemporary
Publishers: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Publication Date: 1st August, 2015
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?
This novel is so important! It packs an emotional punch that most wouldn’t expect going into it, and I think it could be a real eye-opener for people who don’t understand how mental health and sexism can affect people’s lives.
Before I start going in-depth about certain aspects, I want to quickly mention that the writing was really good – it flowed perfectly, and it was easy to get lost for a few hours within the chapters. I was completely swept up in the story, actually – it felt like I was almost going through what our main character was, which was such a vital part to the novel.
‘Bad stuff happens, people are mean, there are no steps you can take that ensure the world leaves you alone. All you can do is try not to be one of those people who contributes to the bad.’
I’m impressed with how OCD was depicted in this novel – I was surprised by how accurate it was. I’ve been left feeling emotionally exhausted after finishing it – we see our main character Evie struggling with her OCD, and it was so distressing to read for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone else who has read it. I have to mention how well thought-out it was to set it out with Evie’s Bad Thoughts interrupting the normal prose from her POV.
Evie has ‘cliche’ OCD – the typical washing your hands and cleanliness that most assume is all that OCD entails (which really isn’t the case). To see our author address the nature of Evie’s OCD through the character showing annoyance at feeling she is ‘cliche’ was important to me – it’s necessary for people to be aware that OCD is different for every person who experiences it, and is often not related to cleanliness at all.
I thought how our author expressed the effect Evie’s Bad Thoughts had on her, and the rituals that then appeared, could be a real eye-opener for people (and even the inclusion of Evie’s self-depreciation was so heartbreaking-ly accurate).
OCD, like many mental illnesses, is very misunderstood. It is not always washing your hands thoroughly and it’s not just liking organisation. It is both the Bad Thoughts and the after effects of having the Bad Thoughts. I feel like this book managed to show a glimpse into the nature of OCD, and I hope that all who read it can understand this mental illness better.
‘Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.”
NO YOU’RE F***ING NOT.
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.”
NO YOU F***ING DIDN’T.
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.’
I’m so happy to say that this book was full to the brim with feminism! Besides seeing our MC struggle with her OCD, we also see her struggling to be a teenage girl in a world where sexism is still such a big issue. I won’t go into much detail because I really enjoyed discovering things for myself, but I will say you can expect some laughs as Evie goes through the usual trials and tribulations of dating, and the importance of the Spinster Club. My friend and I were actually inspired by this novel to start our own feminist club and blog with our other friend (which I’ll be sharing the link for the blog to very soon!)!
Am I Normal Yet? is such a crucial novel in this day and age, in terms of mental health awareness and the importance of feminism. I’m so thankful to Holly Bourne for writing this book, and I recommend it to everyone, because there are so many things to learn from it.
*I must mention this book isn’t appropriate for younger readers.
- Possible triggers for sufferers of OCD
‘Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal.’