Courtney C. Stevens
Synopsis: Alexi is your average high school girl. Or so all of her friends and her family think. Behind her nonchalant facade and supposedly normal life, she is struggling to deal with something very bad that happened over the summer. She can’t stop scratching the back of her neck until she bleeds, trying to make her physical body hurt more than she does on the inside.
On top of that, she is sending messages to a mysterious guy in the school and she has no idea who he is. This book is about Lex’s struggles, her healing, her recovery and standing up for her own rights.
- Really gripping from the middle onwards to the end
- The culprit’s identity was kept a secret even though I kept thinking I knew who it was
- Bodee and Alexi were literally the cutest
- Strange dialogue at times (confusing)
- Kaylee was annoying af
- Slow to get into at first
- Not a perfect resolution at the end
First off, I would like to point out that I don’t personally consider this a mental health book. When I first heard about Faking Normal, it was presented as a mental illness book, and I guess it is to a very very small extent (Alexi having PTSD about her abuse) but on the whole, I would more just consider this a YA contemporary with abuse and PTSD as the underlying theme.
What I really appreciated about this book was just how well the author managed to confuse me about who exactly the culprit was. At first, I thought that it was so obviously Collie. But I was actually pretty shocked when I found out it was Craig. Actually, it had already become a bit more obvious to me towards the end, but in general Courtney just did an amazing job at keeping it a mystery and keeping me on my toes.
This was also extremely noticeable when it came to the Desk Guy (or Captain Lyric guy or whatever he’s named). At first I thought it was definitely Bodee but then I did have a period of time when I did actually believe it was Hayden (even though I was still rooting for it being Bodee). So then, when I came to the end of the book, it made it all the sweeter to find that yes, it was actually Bodee (yippee!)
What I also really appreciated about this book was that it touched up on a very touchy yet important subject in rape culture – which is that even if a girl doesn’t explicitly says “no”, RAPE IS STILL RAPE. I cannot stress how important it is for people to know this. There are way too many people out there, who consider “not saying ‘no'” an explicit sign of consent. No. Just no. You wanna know what consent is? It’s exactly what went on between Alexi and Bodee. The two of them together were just absolutely adorable and a great example of what giving and receiving consent is all about.
Now while we’re on the topic, since I thankfully haven’t experienced rape of any kind, I don’t really know whether the way Alexi and her feelings and thoughts were represented are an accurate or a good representation of rape survivors. I do know and appreciate that at the end of the book, Courtney seems to say that she has put her research into Alexi’s background as well as her appendix where she mentions how to get help and more. However, I am open to hearing disagreements about her representation, and I can only base my opinion of this book on the limited knowledge and experience that I have.
It took a while for me to get into the writing style and the book in general. It was only after I reached about the midway point where I really got into reading it, and I couldn’t put it down. I think that at the beginning, the plot was just a tiny bit repetitive and the writing just took a while for me to get into. It just didn’t flow as nicely, as for example in Otherworld which was the previous book that I had read, which is also one of the reasons I took off 1 star off this book.
But oh boy, this book made me feel things. I was literally in tears by the end of it. I felt sadness for Alexi, anger over how annoying Kaylee was and how much I hated what Craig did and I felt such a love for Bodee.
Let me know what your thoughts were on this book if you already read it. I would love to discuss!!