At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?
Author: Louise Gornall
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: January 3rd 2017
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“See, anxiety doesn’t just stop. You can have nice moments, minutes where it shrinks, but it doesn’t leave. It lurks in the background like a shadow, like that important assignment you have to do but keep putting off or the dull ache that follows a three-day migraine. The best you can hope for is to contain it, make it as small as possible so it stops being intrusive.
Am I coping? Yes, but it’s taking a monumental amount of effort to keep the dynamite inside my stomach from exploding.”
Before we start: I can’t speak for the representation of OCD, anxiety, self harm, depression and agorophobia, so you can go here, here as well as here to see some own voices reviews and thoughts on this one.
This is one of those rare books that I actually go back to reread. Because I really appreciated this book. I appreciated how Norah’s mental illness wasn’t fixed because of a cute guy. I appreciate the healthy portrayal of seeing a therapist. And I appreciate the cute romance.
This book holds no punches when it comes to the portrayal of what Norah goes through. It shed light on a subject haven’t read about much in YA. And even though it touches on these tough topics, it still finds a way to be funny and light with our snarky main character.
And Norah as a protagonist was great. Her insecurities and fears, the way she reacted to things, I really connected to her as a character. And I believe she has depression? She had flaws and I was endeared to her. Everything felt genuine, which is probably helped with the fact that this is an #ownvoices book.
The romance also added a sweetness to the story that I was here for. For someone who has been confined to their house with limited human interaction, seeing Norah connect with Luke was the cutest thing. And Luke as a character was great. The fact that he makes it a point to ask questions and educate himself to make sure Norah’s comfortable made him lovable. But there’s also the fact that he made mistakes formed an even more realistic character.
I did have some issues with the actions of a certain character. Specifically Norah’s mother, who left her daughter at home. Alone. Which is fine… if you then didn’t have a random stranger come and drop off food. Now, again, I can’t speak on the representation, but it just didn’t feel safe at all.
However, I did love the relationship between Norah and her mother. It was full of support and they were close; their dynamic was very heartwarming to read.
The ending was a bit rushed and out there with it’s… twist? The epilogue scene is probably my favorite part of the book. Not only did it end on a happy note and feel realistic, it brought me genuine joy and is one of the main things that I mention when recommending this book. Because I do recommend this book. Highly.