Issue 16’s Review
Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne
A review by editor Jessica Wilson-Smith (this review can be found in issue 16: Normal?)
Am I Normal Yet? is a contemporary look at what it’s like to struggle with a mental illnesses and being a young girl in today’s society. As Book 1 of 3 in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series, this is the book in the series that resinates with me the most. The book is about Evie, a young girl struggling with OCD, it takes you through the struggle of trying to reintegrate yourself back in to society while trying to keep yourself out of dangerous behavioural traits.
Am I Normal Yet? presents mental illness as a very raw and scary thing; which is frankly a breath of fresh air. What I appreciate most about this book is that Evie’s illness isn’t put through a “rose-glass” filter that I feel like a lot of YA novels that deal with mental illness do. It demonstrates a very realistic portrayal of what it’s like to live with such an illness, that after a couple of sessions with a therapist and a couple of pills it doesn’t just go away. It also doesn’t show that getting into a relationship will solve all your problems. While part of Evie trying to regain some “normalcy” is dating, it’s not what ultimately helps her get to a place she needs to be. I won’t say what does, because that would be spoiling it but the “real” way in which this book was written was really eye-opening to the sugary mess that a lot of YA authors are putting out there.
Am I Normal Yet? also deals with many themes of feminism and blind-insensitivity. The three main characters create a club of sort where they talk about feminism and what it means to be a feminist. Now I realise a lot of you will probably be turned off by the “F” word but this is not just a book, bashing guys frankly a lot of it is how society has sub-consciously conditioned girls to be in competition with other girls. Many aspects of feminism are brought up, which I find to be rather interesting.
I found this book to educate me not only on mental illness but social issues as well.
I think this book could be hard for some people to read, I know it was for me as I found myself seeing way too many things that were too alike to my own life.
However I think this book is the right kind of direction YA fiction should take- can we please stop romanticising mental illness? It’s insensitive.
Memorable quotes include
“Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.”
NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT.
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.”
NO YOU FUCKING DIDN’T.
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.”