Book Review # 26: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Number of Pages: 288
Date Published: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
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 times when all you need is a light, refreshing read to soothe your worries. Kinsella has always been my go-to for romantic-comedies-that-make-you-swoon, but to be honest, there’s a lot more to Kinsella’s new book.
The obvious difference between her previous novels and this one is that Finding Audrey houses a younger set of characters. This does not mean that it caters solely to the young adult community. After all, it tackles a subject that is serious enough to be frequently written about in today’s age.
This novel introduces us to Audrey, a fourteen-year old who finds it very difficult to deal with people. She’s anxious and panicky. Her mind often suggests a flight response during unfamiliar interactions. Conversing with strangers tops the list. As it is, interacting with anyone outside her family is pretty much uncharted territory.
So here comes the “but then” part. But then, she meets Linus. She feels as if he understands her more than any other person does. The question is, will Linus ever be enough to help her get better?
I was skeptical at first. I didn’t like the idea of curing mental illness through romance, but this novel teaches nothing of the sort. More than fantasizing and advertising romance, it tries to speak of how one’s circumstances shape the mind, and how environments can either hinder or uplift an individual’s well-being. Moreover, it’s not only one’s support system that works, but also the will of the person to put a vast amount of effort into thinking differently and getting better.
I have to agree that Social Anxiety Disorder coupled with General Anxiety Disorder, and Depressive Episodes is a diagnosis that is way too complicated to be made a subject of a Young Adult novel. However, it made me content to find that most of Audrey’s experiences were on point. This one was particularly striking and eye-opening.
Eye contact is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. Just the thought makes me feel sick, right down to my core. I know in my rational head that eyes are not frightening. They’re tiny little harmless blobs of jelly. They’re, like, a miniscule fraction of our whole body area. We all have them. So why should they bother me?
But they’re like vortexes too. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nano-second. That’s what it feels like. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.
I salute Kinsella for delivering messages that are often overlooked. I admire her for creating and resolving issues in the context of a family that at first glance does not look entirely dysfunctional, but is very much so.
The dialogue was hilarious, and this I appreciate a lot because it’s too much of a task to maintain a light atmosphere while dealing with issues that are supposedly too sensitive and complex to broach. Well, from the first two chapters, I was pretty much sold. There was a bit of “meh” period halfway through the story, but the humor was good enough to keep me going.
I’m about to find another clip when Felix comes running into the room.
‘Candy Crush!’ he says in delight as soon as he spies my iPad and Mum gasps in horror.
‘How does he know about that?’ she demands. ‘Turn it off. I’m not having another addict in the family!’
My only disappointment was not knowing Audrey’s past. What led to her present difficulties? The secrecy must have been used to highlight preference and confidentiality, but as a reader, I just felt betrayed. Okay, maybe that was too intense a word, but it was really kind of a let down.
It also could have been a little longer. The ending was good, but it could have been more satisfying had more concrete realizations been provided. I was confused as to how Audrey managed to pull herself together in the end, and her parting with the glasses was a bit forced, if you ask me.
Nevertheless, Finding Audrey is still a very engaging and fun book to read, that is if you would want a lighter approach to mental illness. I would definitely not recommend this book if you want something more serious and eye-opening. Still, it has a lovely set of characters, an interesting plot, and a hilarious dialogue to boot. If you’re looking for something refreshing, this would be a wonderful addition to your TBR.
Favorite Quotes from Finding Audrey
The more you engage with the outside world, the more you’ll be able to turn down the volume on those worries. You’ll see that they’re unfounded. You’ll see that the world is a very busy and varied place and most people have the attention span of a gnat. They’ve already forgotten what happened. They don’t think about it. There will have been five more sensations since your incident.
Except that stopping midsentence is the worst thing people can do. It’s like, totally passive-aggressive, because you can’t take issue with anything they’ve said. You have to take issue with what you think they were going to say. Which then they deny.