“Why haven’t you told them?”
Because I’d lose them. They wouldn’t get it. They’d treat me differently. I wouldn’t be “normal” to them anymore, even if I never freaked out again. Once they knew, they’d always be watching… waiting… wondering if I was going to lose it.”
Blurb: “All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thig left to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?”
Holly Bourne is an author I’ve been aware of for a while. I’ve seen her books everywhere and I follow her feminist discussions on twitter. However, I was yet to delve into her writing until I saw a recent video where she honked a horn every time she comes across sexism in the media (in spirit of her new book. You can watch that hilarious video here. After viewing that, I wondered exactly what was stopping me from picking up her books. So I started to read.
Am I Normal Yet? Is the first book in the normal/spinster trilogy and follows a girl called Evie who is recovering from being hospitalised for OCD and Anxiety Disorder. She is slowly working through her problems with the help of medication and her therapist Sarah. Evie starts college with one big goal in mind: to be normal. No one here, minus her flaky friend Jane, knows what happened to her and she plans to keep it that way. Evie meets Amber and Lottie and together they form the spinster club dedicated to reclaiming their womanhood.
While this is the first in a trilogy, Holly has said in the past that the books are stand alone in their own right and so can be read out of order.
Through the narrative, the reader gets an honest and raw insight into the mind of Evie by using prose, therapy techniques she’s given, outlines of bad thoughts and worry and recovery diaries. It reads just like that – a diary. Evie felt so human and so real that I found myself having to take a mini break every so often because of how deep things go.
Holly Bourne uses her platform to teach about feminism while expressing the importance of showing the sexism men face too. It feels like she set out to break down the stigmas around both feminist issues and mental illness which she certainly accomplished.
I often say that I “feel” for certain characters when I read certain books but this was a whole different experience. As someone who was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder in 2014, had therapy and medication, I found it so easy to sympathise with Evie. While I couldn’t relate to the OCD side of things, the thought processes she went through were so familiar to me. I started to understand how her mind worked and how things could so easily spiral having been in some of those positions myself; that you need to stay on the straight and narrow or everyone will see you as a failure. It was like reading about myself.
I want to thank Holly Bourne for doing a really good job of not writing this book but doing it in a way where things weren’t glossed over. Some of the events are harsh, raw, brutal and a lot of the time hard to read but it’s so important that it’s out there so society can slowly bring up a generation of people that will be helpful to those suffering mental illness, rather than trying to brush them under the carpet.
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