Author: Holly Bourne
Publish Date: 1 August 2015
Audience: Young adult
(N.B. This book deals with heavy and potentially upsetting issues such as OCD and anxiety)
In the words of Evie Crane: CRIKEY. After absolutely loving ‘The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting‘ I knew that I had to read some more Holly Bourne as soon as possible, and thus ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ became my next YA read. AND HOLY SMOKES THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE.
From the outside, Evie Crane appears your ‘average’ teenager. But as well as dealing with the everyday issues of sixth form and pining for a boyfriend, Evie suffers from severe OCD and anxiety. The thing that striked me as most remarkable about this book is the sheer sensitivity in which these issues are dealt with; it is not clichéd or romanticised (in fact, it makes a point to fight against these stigmas), but it is the raw truth of how a mental illness can damage your whole being. The disjunct narrative plays a huge role in this as Evie’s story is bombarded with ‘BAD THOUGHT’, really helping the reader to experience and engage in the immediacy of the situation. Holly Bourne’s experience as a journalist for The Mix, along with the dedicated research she has undertaken clearly pays off here, as the whole novel feels like a genuine, real-life experience.
As well as the authenticity of the mental health side, ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ feels a fully relatable experience simply from the day to day lives of these girls. Whilst this is almost definitely down to the novel being released only last year, the relevance and pertinence of the conversation topics still astounded me. Aside from the odd cheesy – and potentially cliché – moment, I felt like this group of girls could very easily be my friends, which really helped improve the reader experience.
In particular, the mentions of feminism were extremely refreshing for a YA novel, and were areas that I have discussed with friends (such as the Bechdel test) which again boosted this novel’s relevance. Not only that, but the feminist theories included were fresh and engaging, and I really believe that this series will be a great way to introduce unaware teenagers into the world of feminism – particularly as the concepts are discussed shortly and sweetly, making them easy to understand. The Spinster Club featured is also such a fun idea and it is exhilarating to hear that this series has inspired the formation of these across the country!
In conclusion, ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ is truly stunning; it is one of the most refreshing and genuine YA novels I have read in a long, long time. It contains the perfect mixture of romance, friendship, and personal issues, whilst being educationally stimulating in the feminist department, and made me feel every emotion possible (yes…I cried). I mean THAT EPILOGUE! I simply cannot wait to dive into the next two books which centre around the other girls Amber and Lottie, and I’m sure they will be just as invigorating and moving as this superb novel was.