Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

July 30, 2015

  How do we, as a society, define 'Normal'? For sixteen-year old Evie, normal is everything which any other college kid would take for granted—stable friendships, a social life, maybe even a boyfriend—but for Evie, none of these things are a given. Recovering from serious generalised anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Evie has to bear the burden of these most pernicious of illnesses together with all of the other strains of teen life: no easy task when her parents, along with so much of the rest of society, just don’t understand her condition. How can Evie fit in at college, though, without revealing her condition, even at the cost of her own mental health? 

 

Holly Bourne’s third novel would seem to be her rawest yet, and tackles subjects which need urgently to be addressed amongst teens and young adults. Anxiety spectrum disorders, including social and general anxiety, are the most common neurological problems amongst young people, with the Child Mind Institute estimating that 17.1 million children of America’s 74.5 million juvenile population suffer from some form of the disorder. Of these, 80% will go undiagnosed. Evie’s neurological health issues are invisible but ubiquitous, and yet in Evie’s mind threaten her chances of having a 'normal' life so greatly that she is willing to risk her own mental health in the pursuit of the hallmarks of teen life.

 

Bourne’s writing is subtle but sensitive, addressing the day-to-day struggles of both anxiety and OCD with sensitivity but without restraint, bringing all of the uncomfortable truths of living with these disorders into well-studied relief. Above and alongside this, Am I Normal Yet? is a brilliant and humorous tale of teenage love and loss, with Bourne lending her signature and much-needed feminist touch to the issues of relationships, consent, mental health, and what it means to be a girl.

 

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