Author – Holly Bourne
Genre – Coming of age, Romance, Comedy
Year of publishing – 2015
Number of pages – 334
So, have you ever read a book you could relate to 100%, yet 0%? I’m seemingly making no sense whatsoever. But hear me out. Holly Bourne’s ‘Am I normal yet?’ made my life better. And it can do the same to you, wait and see.
The main character is a 16 years old girl – Evelyn Crane. She has had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for several years now. She’s just hoping to be like everyone else, to be ‘normal’ – hence the title, see what she did there? You’ll read that sentence multiple times troughout the book. That Evelyn wants to be normal. But you read only in the last pages what her definition of normal is. You just know she wants something she can’t achieve.
Going back to the plot. She lives with her parents and her 11 years old sister, Rose, who is, as Evie says, “too wise for her age”. And that’s true. That little girl is wiser/smarter than most people I know in real life and you will see that more than once. Her behaviour proves that. But mostly her words, the way she is comforting Evie.
All this while her parents are barely handling their own daughter. They are so scared of her loosing it – genuinely for her own sake – that they almost forget how to really talk to her and be there for her. You can see they love her from the bottom of their hearts and try to be understanding, but they are truly overwhelmed and unprepared.
But it’s hard for Evie to see how loved she is. Isn’t it for everyone sometimes? You can’t blame her here. So, I said I couldn’t relate. That’s true – I don’t have OCD. Yet, I have my fair share of fights with myself over my anxiety. Hearing Evie’s thoughts and how she constantly said she knew it was stupid, annoying for the people around her, even bad for her, but she couldn’t stop it, helped me really hear my own voice. Weirdly enough, when you don’t go through something, you do tend to minimise the problem or just tell the other person to stop, even though you may know they just can’t.
Evelyn is trying so hard to be ‘normal’ that she looses herself and relapses. She does have a therapist and has had for years, she’s coming off her medicine and things in general seem to be going great. But when she doesn’t want to admit everything is slipping trough her hands, she truly lost it and hell broke loose. I can’t blame her. She really wanted to feel okay and to be off her medicine. She wanted to keep that side of her hidden from everyone – including her new friends. She considered that if she was to relapse, everything she’s endured and as much as she fought would be for nothing. She was wrong, but hey, every feeling is valid and she had to bare through it, fail and build new defence mechanisms.
Do you know that moment when your best friend isn’t your friend anymore? Well, Evie felt that with Jane. All of a sudden she was lost, without her rock, trying to make it in an unknown ocean. When she did manage to make new friends – Lottie and Amber – she got scared. Rather terrified of telling them the truth about her illness, so she endured everything by herself, which let me tell you, it’s excruciating.
Evie goes through a lot of ups and downs and at a certain point she gets to think love would cure her. That’s it, just love. Wait, I’m misleading here – a boy loving her would cure her OCD. Because if a guy (that will be a really good pun) comes to love her, that meant she wasn’t ‘mental’, it meant she was just like any other girl. I can’t tell you if she snapped out of it or not. All I can say is that that’s one of the most painful things I’ve read about, also it could have turned into something so dangerous.
Her friendship with Lottie and Amber turns out to be amazing. They make this club called “The Spinster Club” – they meant to reinvent the word, take it back. That helps them bond so much and also talk about important stuff that helps keep them grounded, real and aware of the world surrounding them.
Mostly crazy teenage adventures. Also, it helps you get into the mind of someone with OCD. Helps get some understanding. Helps you realise (in case you weren’t aware of that) that it’s okay if you have a mental illness. That it’s okay to relapse. It’s okay to trust your friends and your instincts.
It’s a rather easy to read book. It’s fun and relaxing, while raising real social issues. You will really enjoy it, if you give it a shot.