On my last day of the #boutofbooks readathon, I found myself at a loss. I had just finished Literally, and I knew I didn’t have time to get the whole way through Fallen in a day, so I needed a plan B.
I needed something short and light and easy. So, I had a quick scroll through Audible and bought the first thing that jumped out at me. Finding Audrey.
I figured it would be a 3-star read (maximum) so you can imagine my pleasant surprise when it ended up really gripping me. I have truly underestimated Sophie Kinsella until now.
I guess, for a change, I’ll start with my favourite thing about this book. The family – they were amazing! I loved how real they were, and how Kinsella was able to seamlessly turn everyday fights (fights that I have had in my own house, with my own family) into comedy gold. Frank is literally the bookish-embodiment of my brother – it was uncanny. Despite the fact that these characters were relatable, and a little stereotypical, they didn’t feel stale to me, they were just a quirky, nuclear family and I loved it (especially the hilarious transcripts from My Serene and Loving Family).
On a more disappointing note, I definitely think the romance of this story was a let-down. I think it would have run more smoothly if Linus was just a friend, and it would have avoided the cursed insta-love. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Linus as a character, but I just didn’t like him with Audrey. I didn’t think he understood her (or her illness) well enough for their relationship to work, so the whole thing just felt a bit off.
However, I am more than aware that I am at least 6 years older than the actual intended audience, so it may just be my cynical 20-year-old brain misleading you all. Use your own judgement.
Obviously, the biggest space for error was the books decision to deal with anxiety. There is definitely a tendency in YA literature to romanticise mental illness, and this book didn’t escape the trap without contamination. However, the portions documenting Audrey’s own thoughts when having a panic attack were very powerful, and I think were made stronger by Kinsella’s decision not to fixate on the events that brought Audrey there, but rather the steps she took to heal. I think this portrayal was largely successful and insightful. It felt very digestible (without being overly sugar-coated), especially for a third-party who is on the outside looking in.
Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars (a much higher rating than I was anticipating). At least 3 of those stars are awarded solely for the inclusion of Audrey’s bonkers family – they really made the story for me. But even without all of that, I’d definitely recommend it to a younger reader than myself, or to an older reader who’s starting to explore how YA deals with mental illness. It’s a keeper.
Have you guys read this book? What did you think? Are there any Kinsella-heads out there? Let me know in the comments!