Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 9th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental health
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
There are two things I think we can all agree on when it comes to books dealing with mental health:
1) We want more of them because it is such an important issue and isn’t talked about enough
2) Mental health books will ALWAYS be polarizing
There are two reasons for the second point:
a) A book deals with the heavy issue in a very serious manner and appears to be quite “dark”
b) The author decides to take a more humorous approach and pairs a heavy topic such as mental health with a writing style and story that is more fluffy
Which of these you prefer completely depends on your personal interpretation of a book and your experience with the topic that the story is dealing with. In my opinion, both choices are equally valid, as long as the author stays respectful.
In Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella chose to take route b and for me personally this worked very well. I found the novel to be heartfelt and charming, at times funny, at others poignant and always honest. It is a feel-good novel that will make you laugh out loud; certainly fluffy and light but never offensive.
The story follows 14-year-old Audrey who suffers from severe social anxiety which results in her not being able to leave the house or interact with anyone outside of her immediate family. She constantly wears sunglasses (even inside her own house) because making eye contact with people triggers her panic attacks.
Interestingly, it isn’t a story about bullying or what caused her to feel this way, but instead it focuses on healing and recovery.
All the characters in this novel were delightful. Audrey’s family was so lovable and realistic, kind of crazy at times but that made them even more relatable. The family dynamics were extremely well done and Audrey was a great protagonist. Being inside her head was fun while still giving some insight into the thoughts of someone who is suffering from an anxiety disorder.
I’ve come to think of my lizard brain as basically a version of Felix. It’s totally random and makes no sense and you can’t let it run your life. If we let Felix run our lives, we’d all wear superhero costumes all day long and eat nothing but ice-cream. But if you try to fight Felix, all you get is wails and screams and tantrums, and it all gets more and more stressy. So the thing is to listen to him with half an ear and nod your head and then ignore him and do what you want to do. Same with the lizard brain.
If you are looking for a novel that teaches you about anxiety disorders this is not it. You will not learn a huge amount, but you will enjoy the ride.
There is a romance in here but fortunately it really takes the backseat. Fortunately, the romance doesn’t solve Audrey’s problems; the book isn’t perpetuating the idea that having a boyfriend/girlfriend will make your life better. Instead, Linus offers his friendship and supports Audrey how he can (as does her family), but it is up to Audrey to take the steps in the right direction.
Another thing I really appreciated about the novel was how well therapy and progress was portrayed. It was a very therapy positive book and I loved how it was made clear that progress isn’t a straight line upwards, but instead you will have setbacks and it is up to you how you want to proceed from there.
I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to everyone. It is a very quick and easy read that will leave you with a smile on your face.