“Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal, Evelyn.”
Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Why you should read this book: It gives you a very real point of view of what this particular mental illness feels like for the people fighting it.
Evie only wants a normal teenager life after years fighting an illness that kept her from facing the world. The only things that is keeping her from being like her friends is a boyfriend. She thinks that a boy is going to keep her normal. She doesn’t know that teenage boys are difficult to deal with and, even with the friends telling her to be careful, she puts all of herself into new relationships. If she is not ready to tell her new friends about who she really is, how can she be ready for her first love?
“Do you ever wondered, he asked, how we decide what’s mad and what isn’t? There’s so much crazy stuff in the world – everything’s a mess most of the time – but then people who can’t handle it are called mental and have films made about them… But what if they’re just reacting to the weirdness of the universe? Isn’t it more weird to just think everything’s okay, when it clearly isn’t?”
Let’s begin by saying that I have problems with the “normal” situation. What is normal? If I am normal, then the people making different decisions or taking different paths from me are not normal? I like to think that I make my normality, I decide what’s best for me, what keeps me breathing and roll with it. I decided long ago that I wouldn’t compare my life and my decisions to others, life doesn’t work that way.
The main character of this book is Evie, she is young, she is sick and recovering (also thanks to movies!) but she is naive, immature, she thinks being normal means you can do what you want, you have to have a boyfriend etc etc. I really don’t know what an OCD person must feel like, the struggle inside, trying to be like everyone else. Of course I had my “logic thoughts” throughout the book but that’s exactly the problem. She doesn’t do logic, she had her own logic, one that she built inside her head so that she can feel better (touching lamp posts 6 times, touching the mirror…). I understood some of what she was feeling, the different logic she used, I didn’t think she was “crazy” like she wanted to believe.
“Solidarity. That’s what girls need more of. Solidarity.”
Her friends! Jane, the “I morph for my boyfriend” Jane. She knew yet she didn’t see the changes, she wasn’t a friend at all, she could’ve helped. Amber and Lottie were fantastic. With Evie they were three girls so different but perfectly matched. Unfortunately Evie was too much into the “I want a boy to love me, that’s the key to solve my problems” situation and she didn’t understand how valuable that friendship really was.
“He’s been so changeable with her I’m surprised he’s not been accepted to Hogwarts for his transfiguration skills.”
Evie’s boys! Yes, boys. How is it “normal”, as she claimed, to fall in love with whoever gives you even a minimum attention? People with whom we can fall in love are all around us but we don’t start building fake lives with every single one of them. Evie felt good when a boy talked to her, she gave them all of her and those fake feelings crushed her. Platonic love. She tried everything she could to feel better but the illness didn’t show the whole picture, how boys can make you feel if they don’t text back, if they ignore you or if they don’t invite you out on a date.
Her family. It’s hard not to use your own logic when you see other people doing something that for you is wrong. Evie made that mistake, her parents made that mistake and also her little sister made that mistake. There aren’t rules (there are generic rules, I know that) on how to deal with someone who has a mental illness because people are different, we all have our heads, our rational or irrational thoughts and often we can’t see what’s on the other side. The best you can do is look for help if you sense something is not quiet right, as much as it feels like a personal failure, looking for help is the only way.
Love may not have the shape you want it to have but if you look hard enough you’ll see that there’s plenty around you and that your happiness is as important as theirs, if not more!
This book gives you a point of view that may give you frustration, it will make you mad and it will make you feel powerless. Well, that’s the point!
Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s a fun and well written story.