‘”I know the theme of tonight’s meeting is periods, but did you really have to get themed biscuits?” she asked. Amber looked down at the plate of Jammie Dodgers, arranged thoughtfully in a circle.’
Evie just wants to be normal. She wants to go to college, go to parties, meet boys and hang with her friends, all the normal things normal people do. Instead, she keeps a box of cleaning supplies under her bed. She touches every lamppost six times when she’s walking home. She takes a pill every day, goes to therapy every week, and tries not to wash her hands so many times that they turn red and raw. How ever could she be normal?
Before I begin, I have to say i’m so glad I purchased this book on my Kindle (for 98p on Amazon), because if I had bought a physical copy, it would be impossible to read it through the numerous “OMG I HAVE TO TAG THIS BRILLIANT THING” post-it notes I’d have covered it with. Instead, I just have 50% of it highlighted in My Clippings, because this book is brilliant in every way.
The first book in The Normal Series, Am I Normal Yet? is a sensitive and insightful story that explores what it’s like to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am always rather reticent to read books that touch on living life with a mental illness, because so often authors miss the mark entirely. In contrast, Holly Bourne writes with such intelligence that it’s hard to believe she isn’t writing about her own life, and I think there’s one very good reason why.
I said that this book explores what it’s like to live with OCD, but, in many ways, it’s actually just a book about growing up. It’s about first kisses, first dates, and, of course, first break-ups. It’s about those casual conversations you have about changing the world, bookended by unintelligible squealing about that boy you like. It’s about manoeuvring the seemingly unending minefield that is being a teenager.
And that’s where this book thrives, because this is a book we can all relate to. Evie’s life may be filled with emotions most of us will never have to face, but we can relate to her, because everyone of us has, at some point in their lives, just wanted to be normal.
As mentioned, this is the first book in The Normal Series, a trilogy which will be told from the point-of-view of three friends, Evie, Amber and Lottie, who, in this book, form The Spinster Club: a club that focuses on tackling all things feminism, and so much of this book is about their determination to reclaim the sisterhood and fight the patriarchy. As a self-proclaimed feminist, I loved it! I hope this is the first of many YA books aimed at teenagers which so openly discusses feminism in such an amusing way.
I cannot recommend Am I Normal Yet? enough. It is a book that tackles mental illness with absolute sincerity and which doesn’t shy away from it. Holly Bourne writes Evie so well we are reminded that she is a teenager, first, and an OCD-sufferer, second. Likewise, it’s great to see feminism so openly discussed in YA in such a great way; my neck is sore from all the nods in agreement I did throughout reading this. I cannot wait for the next book in this sisterhood-uniting series!
This is part of a series of reviews I am writing leading up to YA Shot, a UK day-long convention celebrating Young Adult and Middle Grade literature, which takes place on October 28th 2015.
To read more reviews from authors attending the convention, click here.