Thursday, April 17, 2014

[Book Review] Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Library


Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Review

Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. Inspiring. A story of hurt and healing. These are just a few words to describe Courtney C. Stevens stunning debut novel, Faking Normal. I read the book in nearly one sitting because I just could not put it down. Then when I finished, I was so blown away and I didn't have words for how much it touched my heart and my soul. I still don't think anything I can say will do Faking Normal justice, it was that good.

Note: I do want to mention that there are possible triggers related to sexual assault and self-harm through out the book and may be mentioned in this review, although there will not be any spoilers as to the actual plot.

Faking Normal is a character driven story. Alexi's character development is the most critical component of the story and Stevens executes it perfectly. Throughout the story we can see how Alexi is dealing with her traumatic event from the summer and how she continuously changes. There are times when she progresses and regresses which makes it all the more realistic. Even though I have never experienced anything close to what Alexi experienced, through Stevens' beautiful I could experience her emotions. There were times when I was nearly in tears because of the strong emotions that are evoked.

Throughout the story the details of what happened that summer night are slowly revealed. Stevens does a great job of slowly revealing the details and keeping the reader in suspense. I think that this slow revelation is very important because we learn about what happened just as Alexi is coming to terms with it herself.

Overall, there are so many good relationships in the story. It's not just the relationship between Alexi and Bodee, but also those between Alexi and her sister, as well as those between Alexi and her friends. Of course none of them are perfect, and every character has it's flaws, but it's the development of the relationships that make them good. Steven's also makes sure to show us bad relationships, which are especially important to see in the context of this book because of Alexi's past.

Specifically, the relationship between Alexi and Bodee is so beautiful. Their relationship is a promise to the readers that no matter how "damaged" you think you are, there are always people out there how will respect you and your boundaries, and try to understand you on a deeper level. Between the both of them, the help each other heal.

I would recommend this to readers of Laurie Halse Anderson's books, specifically Speak. It was a similar gritty, realistic vibe that I think is important for people to encounter in literature. Even though we may be fortunate enough to never be in a situation like Alexi, it's important to know what other people go through and how to help them. I just wanted to end by saying thank you to Courtney C. Stevens for putting into words what needs to be said and for writing such a fantastic book on such a tough subject.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment