I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Romance, Humorous, Depression & Mental Illness, Young Adult
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.
I loved this book for one main reason: I struggled to connect with Norah, and it was frustrating to follow how she thought because that’s not how I think.
True, in most cases, this would warrant a DNF, or like 0 stars. Like with this godawful book. Let’s not get into that because I’m still raging about that one. Alright, in this case, this is good, this is very good. Because, no matter how many friends dealing with mental health issues we have, no matter how much we research and ask, we still just… will never be able to truly grasp what it is to be at war with yourself all the time. Of course, reading about it will never be like the real thing either, but I felt close.
And, wouldn’t a whole shit ton of our problems disappear if we just could understand each other better? If we could empathize more? That’s why this kind of books are important.
A lesson in empathy
Last week, I had to attend a small conference. I’m part of the tutoring program at my college, and they’d organized this conference about how to be better at identifying, and also working with students that presented mental illness. I arrived a little late, and the speaker showed us a few videos, some were boring and lame, and others had me riveted.
One exercise in particular stuck with me. She showed us a slide with a bunch of nonsenseical text, pure gibberish really; and then asked us to read it, to understand it, and tell her what the main idea of the text was, and who the characters were. Say what?
I couldn’t even read the thing, how could I tell her what the main idea was? Then together, all of us, started making sense of the letters. Some words were separated, some were attached to others; ‘o’s were swiped by ‘a’s, and others were just flipped. And then she said, ‘Okay, so now you know how people with dyslexia feel‘.
This is what I felt reading this book. Like it was telling me, Okay, so now you know (a little better), how people with OCD and agarophobia feel like.
- Norah had an insanely entertaining sense of humor. While I think talking about mental health is good, even its darkest aspects, I appreciate the book balancing the serious with Norah’s funny quips.
- Luke is a really good guy. I mean, he isn’t some kind of savior that comes show Norah that she can get past her issues. This isn’t something you get past. He just makes Norah question some things, but on her own, and the ultimate realization she has, that’s her own decision too, and she was so brave and her own hero. In spite of that, he was a good friend to her, and a wonderful book boyfriend.
You should read this book if:
- You’d like to learn more about mental health
- You aren’t interested in learning more about mental health because you’re an asshole (This could help ya)
- You’d like a wonderful immersive experience beyond just reading from someone’s POV.
- You’re a human*
*You probably shouldn’t read this, or read with caution if:
- You’re a beautiful human, but could be triggered by things like self-harm.