Genre: YA contemporary (realistic fiction)
Publication date: February 25th, 2014
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.
After finishing Faking Normal, I just sat there. I sat there, feeling so calm and content. It felt sad, but only because some tears from earlier were still drying on my face. Mostly, though, I was happy. The book was wonderful and . . . it kind of left me speechless.
YA contemporary with a basis on recovery—from abuse, drugs, or anything else—are my absolute favorite. They never seem to go wrong for me—I'm always swept away in the story, the meaning, the emotions . . . and Faking Normal is no exception. It's the kind of book that, despite any flaws I find, fully deserves a five star rating. It just made my heart happy, and isn't that what a truly great book is supposed to do?
ALEXIS & HER STORY
Alexis is the one "faking normal" in this book. She was the one keeping her secret, hiding in the closet, blaming herself, and suffering as she tried to act as normal and undamaged as possible. Her character was a good one. The journey to finding her strength and voice was remarkable. And her reactions and struggle (as well as the reasons behind them, such as a childhood event) felt very well thought out and well done. The author did a great job with her and her journey.
Bodee was . . . wow. Talk about a good character. He was never described as this hot, muscle-y, irresistible man that makes all the girls go "OMG *swoon*" (I may have stretched that last one. Just a bit. No. He was the "Kool-Aid Kid". He was the "freak" that people felt sorry for because his dad killed his mom. Bodee's was a, as Alexi herself said, a broken guy. But he was so nice And sensitive, protective, quiet, supportive . . . an all around good guy. He helped Alexi recover and open up about her secret, one step at a time. At the same time, he was able to step towards his own "recovery." The two characters were one another's rocks, and man, they were good rocks.
I just want to point out a couple things that stood out to me about the book here.
Family was good in this book. The parents didn't play very big roles, but they were still good ones. Kayla was . . . well, most of the time, she acted horrible. When it came to her little sister and and the idea of anyone hurting her, though, she was such a good, strong big sister. I didn't like here much until the end, but at that point, she had completely redeemed herself for me. While family wasn't a key element in this book, neither the parents or the sister fit into that "bad family" trope that many people notice in YA.
The subject matter—well, it does focus on sexual abuse, but it's mostly on rape culture and popular views of rape. Alexi felt a lot of fear of what would happen if she told her secret. It would ruin lives. It would label her as damaged. Most of the time, she thought it was her fault . . . she let him do it, she never said no—that type of thing. The author did well with the subject matter and with including popular fears and misconceptions about sexual abuse.
Faking Normal is a truly wonderful book. Did it have flaws? Yes, it did. Did they matter to me? Not a bit. I can barely even remember what they were. Even if I did remember, my heart tells me this was a five star book. I cannot recommend this one enough—it's a remarkable and important story that is likely to pull at your heartstrings and leave you saying "wow."
My questions for you:
What do you think of "recovery" books?
Have you ever read a book where its flaws don't matter to you?