Book: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 9, 2015
My rating: 4 stars out of 5
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this book up from the library. I’d seen some positive tweets about it and loved the cover design, so I placed a hold at my library and put it on my to-be-read list. When I picked it up, I found a fabulous story of quirky, honest, funny characters, and quite a bit of truth.
Finding Audrey is about a fourteen-year-old girl who has developed severe mental illness, including depression and anxiety, because of bullying. She is afraid of leaving her house, and is afraid of making eye contact, even with her family. This book is her story of how she battles her illness and learns to love herself and live her life. It’s also about other people’s reactions to mental health, and how they do or do not judge or help. It’s full of entertaining family dynamics, sweet teenage romance, lots of teen angst, and some hilarious dialogue and scenes.
I absolutely loved how Kinsella showed the characterization through dialogue. Every character has their own way of speaking, their own unique syntax and common words and phrases. Audrey often ends sentences in “so”. I loved this. I could hear her speaking to me, just like the teenagers I used to teach dance to. Her little brother speaks like a four-year-old child, temper tantrums, mispronounced words, distractions and all.
Many of the characters seem quite archetypal, the aloof older brother, the crazy mom, the oblivious dad, the comic relief little brother, but it worked. These archetypes didn’t feel super overdone or fake. If you’ve a family like mine, some of the moments and characteristics seemed familiar. Archetypes and stereotypes exist because for a reason, they are based on reality.
The characters all developed in natural ways. Things weren’t too easy. Problems aren’t fixed on the spot. Audrey is not miraculously healed from her illness. I appreciated this reality. She takes steps forward and steps backward in her journey to wellness. I think people who have lived or do live with mental illness will appreciate this representation of depression and anxiety. I know I did.
If you want to learn a bit more about what it might be like for someone living with a mental illness, try reading this book. Sophie allows us readers to hear Audrey’s self-talk, see the reactions of her friends and family to her illness and how those reactions affect her.
I’m not usually a fan of Kinsella. I tried reading her Shopaholic books and just did not enjoy them. This book, however, made me really appreciate her. Mental illness is a difficult and often taboo subject to write about. I think she did a fine job of making it honest, realistic (from what I can tell, not having suffered from a mental illness), and still entertaining and humourous.
If you enjoy YA fiction that deals with difficult issues in an honest and funny way, take a read of Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. You’ll enjoy it. I promise.