Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet?Am I Normal Yet? is a question we are all going to ask ourselves until our spirits silently glide into the air and we respectively go to heaven or another place beyond earth where there isn’t a microscope on our every move.

Am I Normal Yet? Synopsis

All Evie wants it to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Mental health

I don’t like the synopsis for this book because yes Evie is a teenage girl but they story doesn’t focus solely on or emphasise above all else Evie’s desire to be in a relationship with a guy.

This story is about being a teenage girl trying to figure herself out, to map out who she is and what she likes and her beliefs. Evie has obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD. This story is about a teenage girl struggling to ‘fit in’ as a teen but also someone who has a stigmatised mental illness regardless of the outcome of fitting in.

I want to commend the way Holly Bourne has written Evie’s experience of OCD, she has done her research, she writes with compassion but her words are a slap into reality, to make us all realise OCD is beyond touching things in a sequence or washing your hands compulsively. Holly stripes down our idea of OCD, rips it into shred and portrays the pain, the suffering and the absolute destruction OCD can cause. I bet you will think twice next time you say “Oh I’m so OCD” when actually you are not, you just have a preference. OCD isn’t a preference it’s a necessity.

Feminism and female solidarity

Evie, Amber and Lottie go on a journey throughout this book to explore Feminism challenging the perceptions and tropes society nowadays throws to young girls. I know that Holly has worked with long people who have mental illnesses and that is truly reflected in the insight she gives the reader into Evie’s OCD mind.

The friendship between these girls is something I long to see in many more books, female supporting one another, accepting flaws and not trying to compete or pummel each other. Female solidarity is important, more important than anything else in the world if you ask me.

Fitting in

There are scenes in Am I Normal Yet? that can be quite hard to read and quite upsetting too. To see Evie recovered and relapse was heartbreaking, like a punch in the gut. Evie’s character easily demonstrated the pressures, decisions and struggles teenage girls go through. It’s about high time society realised that being a teenage girl is one of the most vulnerable times in our lives.

Diversity

I would have loved if there was a diverse character or the recognition of intersectional feminism in this book. Everyone talks about how this is great story for teenage girls who struggle with teen issues but the absence of a person of colour frustrates me and once again draws a barrier in my mind to truly let myself appreciate every word I’m sure Holly has carefully drafted and redrafted.

What are your thoughts?