Audrey can’t leave her house anymore. Even inside she wears dark glasses, making eye contact is just too much. Her therapist, Dr Sarah, suggests making a documentary and looking at people through a camera as a step in her recovery. She also suggests Audrey tries taking a trip to Starbucks, something that seems utterly terrifying. However, when her brother’s friend Linus enters her life – with his orange slice smile, cute notes and optimism – she finds a new sense of hope.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I felt Sophie Kinsella explored social anxiety well, and gave a real sense of how debilitating Audrey’s anxiety could be. The scene in which she panics and runs out of Starbucks gives the reader a palpable sense of her anxiety, of how overwhelming it is for her to be out in the world. I also liked that the events that led her to this point were never fully explained, as it put the focus very much on the present and on her struggle to cope with and manage her anxiety. I know some readers found the lack of a big reveal about the bullying at school disappointing, but I liked that Audrey stuck with only sharing what she wanted to. She grows a lot throughout the book, and learns more about herself. Her journey was quite an emotional and inspiring one, and she is a likeable heroine.
Linus and Audrey made a cute couple, but they seemed to get together very quickly, especially when Audrey’s issues are taken into account. This ‘insta love’ was just not credible for me. The notes they exchange and their nicknames and challenges were very sweet though. I was worried going into this book that it would be one of those stories in which a boy magically cures/rescues the girl. I was glad to see that while Linus is very supportive of Audrey, her recovery comes from within, with help from her therapist and her family. Some aspects of this were a bit speedy in my opinion, but I was glad it ended on a hopeful note. There’s still a long way to go for Audrey, but she is getting there.
One of my main quibbles with this book was Audrey’s family. I felt the mother’s character was quite over the top. Perhaps this is because we are seeing things through Audrey’s eyes, but her behaviour seemed quite extreme. There were some funny situations, but at times the family bordered on ridiculous and I think this took away from the book for me. I liked how Audrey’s relationship with her brother Frank was developed though, and I enjoyed the inclusion of the film transcripts.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I love the cover design (by Will Steahle) I think it’s very cool. I hope Sophie Kinsella writes more YA and while I had some issues with the book I think it was a good exploration of social anxiety, and gave a positive view of therapy an medication. Most of all, Finding Audrey recognises that recovery is not a straight line, or a straight graph.
life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all you can hope for. More or less upwards.