Published by Chicken House on July 7th 2016
Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.
For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
An important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD.
This book, this book, this book.
I’m so happy that there’s finally a real and honest book about agoraphobia. While I liked Finding Audrey, I didn’t think it was completely realistic. The girl skips to Starbucks within a week because of a cute boy. And while there’s a cute boy inUnder Rose-Tainted Skies as well, he acts like a catalyst more than a cure. He’s the reason Norah wants to work to get better, but he doesn’t actually make her better, which I was infinitely grateful for. Pretty boys don’t cure everything, you know, as much as we may want them to.
Agoraphobia is a really tricky illness. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I imagine it’s quite hard to write a whole book about it, because how does one write a book about a girl who can’t leave her house? But the author did a really great job; Rose never felt monotonous, even though the illness is most certainly that.
Although there were a lot of instances in the book that made me smile, there were also a lot of quotes that left me misty-eyed because of how well I recognised it. How well I could relate to Norah and her situation. It’s just So. Damn. Hard. And I loved how the author didn’t flinch away from that. It’s clear she knows what she’s talking about and that really showed in her novel. The pain, the madness, the boredom, the endless scrolling through social media to look at pictures of old friends who have long since outgrown you. It’s all there.
I also thought the OCD and self-harm scenes felt really realistic. Though I don’t have personal experience with those myself, I thought it was important to mention to any potential readers out there.
“I want to see that girl in my social media selfies. The one that smiles and never has to live up to anyone’s expectations or explain why she is the way she is. But all I see in my real-life reflection are blunt smudges of shadow. Fragile. Upset. Weak. Thin. Afraid. Failing. And tired. Above everything else, tired of battling with my own mind.”
You can imagine that someone with agoraphobia doesn’t have a lot of friends. Online, I have loads of friends. Social media are my connection to the outside world, because at the moment it’s pretty much impossible for me to meet up with friends or invite them over. But the few relationships Norah had, were done really nicely. I loved that moment when Norah realised that she’d become best friends with her mother, which is something that definitely sounds familiar. Her friendship with her neighbour Luke also develops really naturally (and very much awkwardly because holy crap so much awkwardness).
I really liked the writing. Most of the descriptions were really snappy and made me laugh, such as “Doubt sneaked behind me like some horny guy at a disco, which is probably the best and worst analogy I’ve ever heard.
All in all, this is a really important book. It’s awkward and sad and honest and real and cute and true and I could probably name all the adjectives in the world. This book means a lot to me.