Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Cover image from Goodreads

Cover image from Goodreads

Am I Normal Yet?

Holly Bourne

Usborne, 2015

YA – Contemporary

Evie desperately wants to be ‘normal’. She is almost off her medication and is making a new start at college where no-one knows her past. She wants to be like any other sixteen-year-old girl – make friends, go to parties, maybe get a boyfriend. But relationships turn out to be much more complicated than she had anticipated, and when her compulsive urges starts to return, can she keep her illness a secret from her new friends?

I loved this book. Holly Bourne writes so well about mental health and feminism, and besides that it is just a really good read. Evie is a strong protagonist and Bourne lets us into her head and gives an idea of the experience of OCD in showing us Evie’s ‘good thoughts’ and ‘bad thoughts’. Seeing a character in recovery, and seeing how difficult recovery can be, is very important. Evie’s friends Amber and Lottie are also very likeable, and the three form a ‘spinster club’ where they discuss feminist ideas and think about what it is to be a girl. For teenage readers, these meetings will give a great introduction to feminism (or expand the knowledge they already have) but in a non-preachy manner. Older readers will nod along to Lottie’s explanations. Bourne has books about Amber and Lottie coming out in 2016 which I am very much looking forward to reading.

One of the (many) things I really enjoyed about this book is how it explores female friendships. There is romance (and a popular romantic trope is very nicely debunked) but the friendship between the three girls is really at the core of this book. Evie learns a lot about herself through her friendship with Amber and Lottie, and their conversations show Bourne really has an ear for dialogue. This is a book that made me laugh as well as tear up, and I know it is one I will be reading again. Bourne tackles some difficult and important issues really well in this book, while also creating a clever and fun read. One of my favourite books of the year.

I was delighted to hear Holly Bourne speak at DeptCon1 (a YA convention run by Easons in Dublin) so watch out for some blog posts about that during the week!

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