Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne


Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne  

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publishing Info: August 2015 by Usbourne Publishing

Pages: 434

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

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?

I met Holly Bourne a couple of years ago at a talk and got this book signed. She wrote ‘Normal = overrated’ and I am so thankful to her for that message. I have only just got round to reading this book. I’ve been catching up on all the books I didn’t have time to read during my degree, and I wish I’d read this one sooner. A few times I picked it up, read the first page, and put it back on the shelf because I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I don’t very often read contemporary books, I’m more of a fantasy person, and I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the writing style. But here we are, and I finally read it, and I’m so so glad I did.

The writing style is quite conversational, which is what put me off reading it, as I’m not always a fan of this style. However, I ended up very much enjoying the style of writing. Holly Bourne captures the voice of the main character brilliantly and the style works well for the book. At time the writing got a bit rambling but I didn’t mind too much.

What Bourne did so well is show Evie’s thought processes. Evie has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which has sadly been very stereotyped in our society and a lot of people have misconceptions about this condition. Bourne didn’t fall into clichés and it was clear she had done a lot of research. It was eye opening to see the thoughts that might go through the mind of someone with OCD, and also how that can spiral into relapse.

Another great thing about this book is the humour. Even though it deals with a serious subject, there is humour in it too which made me smile and giggle as I was reading. It was also so good to read a YA contemporary novel set in the UK for once, as most books I read seem to be set in the US, which does have quite a different educational system and culture.

Feminism is another important part of this book and is something I’ve not really seen characters speaking about so openly in any other novels. At times it perhaps seemed a bit in your face, but I totally agreed with the sentiments and it was great to see a group of young girls discussing feminism in YA literature.

I really connected to this book. I don’t have a mental illness like Evie, but I do have an incurable chronic illness, which I was diagnosed with at the age of nine. I could totally relate to Evie’s need to be ‘normal’. I’ve always wanted to be able to be ‘normal’ and do all the things other people do, to be able to go out without being exhausted, to be able to go for a meal without reading the menu over and over looking for something I can eat, not have to take medication and so on. Bourne captured the need to be ‘normal’ so well. I could really relate to that.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even if contemporary books aren’t usually your thing. It’s emotional, eye-opening and also manages to be humorous.

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