Published: January 3rd, 2017 by Clarion Books | Series: N/A | Length: 320 pages | Genre: YA, contemporary, mental health| Source: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Summary from Goodreads:
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
Yet another book that I am having the HARDEST time reviewing. December has been a great reading month for me because the books I’ve picked up have been fantastic. This was no exception. It’s great, but also makes writing a review difficult, haha.
The way Gornall talked about mental health in this book was fantastic. I’m sure that a lot of that is because she is talking a lot about issues that have affected her personally, as we learn in the author’s letter to the reader in the beginning of the book. I don’t have personal experience with agoraphobia or OCD so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation of those issues, but from what I’ve seen from other people and based on the (admittedly, limited) knowledge I have about these illnesses, it was handled really well and accurately. I also was incredibly appreciative of the fact that Norah’s therapist is portrayed really positively – I’m so over YA books that talk about mental health dismissing therapy, especially when it can be so incredibly helpful for so many people.
Even though I don’t have agoraphobia or OCD, there were still elements of Norah’s illness and experience that I could relate to. One of my favorite things was how Gornall showed the difficulty between knowing certain anxious feelings are irrational but still not being able to overcome those feelings/thoughts. I know this is something that I experience all the time with my anxiety. No matter how many times you sit there and tell yourself “this is really unlikely to end the world or lead to X outcome” you can’t stop making yourself worry about it. I loved how accurately this was shown in Under Rose-Tainted Skies.
I also adored the romance between Norah and Luke. Both of their characters were wonderful and I loved how supportive Luke was and how hard he worked to be understanding and not make Norah feel uncomfortable. He really does his best to understand what life is like for her. I also appreciated that even though he helps support her, he is absolutely not the “cure” for her mental illness. He’s a support system, not a fix. I do think it would have been nice to see more of him as an individual rather than just his relationship to Norah, but regardless, I liked what we did see of him.
Norah was a really wonderful character. I loved getting to see her battle with her mental health, but I also loved how absolutely hilarious she was. There were several times as I was reading when I laughed out loud because her sense of humor is very much like mine. I appreciated as well that although her mental health obviously impacts every aspect of her life, she’s still shown as a full person. She isn’t just her mental illness; she’s a regular person who has things she likes and dislikes, has hopes for her future, etc.
This is quite possibly my #1 favorite book that I’ve read this year and I truly can’t recommend this enough. If you’re at all interested in mental health issues, this is a great choice. There are, of course, sensitive issues that are dealt with including self-harm that may be triggering, but if these topics are something that you are able to read about without being too upset by them, I very strongly suggest reading Louise Gornall’s stunning debut, Under Rose-Tainted Skies.
Thank you to the publisher, Clarion Books, for providing me with an eARC!