Aug 4, 2015

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella



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Finding Audrey

What would you do if people terrified you and the most basic human contact would send you into a panic attack? For Audrey Turner, this is daily life. Something terrible has happened at her school, something so bad that she is now dealing with severe social anxiety and depression. This means that she can’t talk to anybody outside of her safe people, her family. She also is incapable of making eye contact, which is why she wears sunglasses at all times. As part of her treatment, therapist doctor Sarah suggests that Audrey makes a documentary about her life. And so she does.

Switching between normal text and transcribed movie script, Audrey’s life is told in two distinct voices. One is her own, the other is that of everybody around her. Her hysteric mother, who reads the Daily Mail religiously and threatens to throw her brother’s computer out of the window because he is addicted. Her compliant father, who basically agrees with anything her mother says. Her sarcastic brother Frank, who lives for his computer game and wants to become a professional gamer. Her innocent brother Felix, who is excited by everything. Seriously everything. When a new person bursts into her life, quite literally, Audrey doesn’t know how to handle it. But as she sees Linus more often, she can’t help but start feeling something. And maybe, just maybe, recovery isn’t as far as it always seemed.

Review by Eline

Sophie Kinsella is a name I’m quite familiar with. My best friend has read her Shopaholic series, and always sounded very positive. Then this book came out, and I started seeing it everywhere. Goodreads, bookstores, everybody was reading this book. This, of course, got me slightly intrigued. So when my favourite bookstore (Kiekeboek in Haarlem) asked me to read it in exchange for an honest opinion and a small review, I couldn’t be happier.

I went into this book completely blind. Yes, I had read the backside of the book, but that was basically it. No reviews or other opinions whatsoever. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a book that deals with such serious themes. And I was right to not know what to expect. Because holy crap, I don’t think I have laughed this much whilst reading a book in ages. I would just sit in the living room, lounging in some chair, and there seemed to be laughter every other page. So much so, that literally every member of my family has mentioned that my book must be really funny at least once. It is a 280 page book. Do the math.

I must admit, I’d hoped for this book to go a bit more into the psychological part of it all. At times this part seemed a bit lacking, somehow, and that was a bit of a shame. But I absolutely can’t deny that the humour made up for it with ease. I kind of had a rom-com feeling, but then a serious rom-com that wasn’t focussed on the romantic part per se, but also on the relationship with the family. What would you call that? A fam-rom-com? Let’s go with that.

When I’m talking about family, I of course mean the people I wrote about in the little book description above. Too often in Young Adult novels, the family is deceased, non-existent or just absent for the biggest part of the book. That is why it was so incredibly refreshing to read a book that focussed on the family bond this much. Instead of just being there, every member of Audrey’s family had a very distinct personality, and you could clearly tell who was speaking without actually having to read who was speaking. The characters were strong and balanced, they and their actions made sense, and you could clearly tell that the whole ordeal had a huge impact on not just Audrey but on all her loved ones.

All in all, I really liked this book. I’ve been getting more into contemporary lately, but before that I always thought contemporaries couldn’t be that good. No world building, nothing refreshing, just people doing things. But as I am now realizing, that isn’t necessarily true! Something can be refreshing without having an entire new world to back it up. To me, there are four points you judge a book on. The world, and specifically the world building. The characters, and specifically character development. The plot, and specifically plot twists or original ideas. And last but not least, the experience, and specifically the emotions that a book made you feel. A book can score some points in every category, or all the points in one and none in the others. There is no formula for a perfect book, as I always thought. I usually read books that are strong on the world and plot, but as I am now discovering, books that are heavy on characters and experience are great too. I simply love finding out more about my taste, and love it even more that I can share this with all of you. Who knows what I’ll be reading in a year from now? Hopefully a new YA Sophie Kinsella book, because this makes me yearn for more. Me, wanting more contemporaries. Who could’ve known!

3 comments:

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  2. Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. Sophie Kinsella is, like, one of my absolute favorite authors (I LOVE the Shopaholic series- Becky Bloomwood is super-fun!) and so anyway, I've been meaning to read this book for so long, I don't even know what I'm waiting for :)) I do wish there had been more on the psychological aspect- but guess the many laughs it evokes more than makes up for it. Great review!

    Ruzaika @ The Regal Critiques

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  3. Sophie Kinsella is one of my all-time favourite authors and I'm a big fan of her chick lit novels. They're fun and relaxing and they make me laugh. Which is why I got all the more excited about Finding Audrey, because Sophie Kinsella writing YA? About anxiety, something I struggle with as well? Sign me up!

    I absolutely agree with you on both the positive and the negative aspects: while it was a really funny and light take on anxiety, which I really appreciated, I couldn't help but feel like it was lacking on the psychological aspect. I also found her recovery too fast to be realistic, and I know a lot of people feel the same way. However, it was still a cute story.

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