Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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“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.
Rate: 4/5

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz ☆

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author:
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Why you should read this book: everything about this book is important, everyone should read it!

Aristotle, for short Ari, is 15 years old, he has trouble talking about his feelings and he doesn’t have any friends. But then he met Dante at the pool where he taught him how to swim. Dante knows how to do a lot of things Ari can’t. He shows him how to love books, poetry books, art and life.
This is a story about family, friendship and love. This is a story about life.

It is so true: we all fight our private wars.
It took me a long time to finish this book because I read it really slowly, so slowly that the characters kept living their days in my head when I didn’t know what they were really doing. In my head I invented what they were doing during the days that weren’t described in the book. I really wish I’m not the only one doing it. It feels weird but also it feels good, like I’m contributing in some way to the development of the story.

Let’s talk about the two magnificent boys in this wonderful book. Aristotle is a great main character, smart, conflicted, a 15-year old boy, with all the problems that age come with. He has holes in his life, so many things are not how they’re supposed to be. In his house there is silence. He has a big brother that everyone pretend doesn’t exist because he is in prison but nobody wants to tell Ari anything about him. This makes him feel incomplete. He doesn’t like to talk about his feelings so as a result he is always angry with the world.
Then along came Dante, a bright young man with a warm smile and a shoeless way to live his life. They are so different and they unknowingly help each other. Dante is curious about everything, he is experimenting in life because if you have doubts about who you really are you have to try a lot of things so that you can figure out what makes you happy, what it’s worth fighting for.

Their friendship is one I can only dream of. They don’t always talk, they are often quiet, they fight, they find out a lot about themselves when they think of each other. They fit perfectly together, no wonder they become best friends almost right away.

I could give this book a thousand stars and still I’d feel is not enough. When a book makes me feel this way it can only mean that it’s perfect, the perfect book to love, to think about when things are not great, when you need to smile a little.

I love how smiles were so important. Smiles where described a lot: sweet, sad, enigmatic, fake. Smiles are what I love the most about human beings (and every other being on this planet), they’re the first thing I look at in a person.
Have you ever watched a person smile and his face and whole body just start glowing? There’s magic in smiles, something it’s not easy to describe, you have to see it and feel it. Rest assure, when you see that kind of smile, no matter how bad is your day/week/month/year/life, for a couple of seconds everything disappears and you find yourself smiling and everything just feels right. Yeah, just perfectly right!

What an incredible book, don’t miss it.
So let’s smile and look at the stars!

Do I recommend it? Yes, 500% yes.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

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