Am I Normal Yet? Holly Bourne

aminormalyetAll Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Find the book on Goodreads.

I really loved The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting (review here) and I was keen to read more of Bourne’s work.  There was something about this one, though, that left me feeling disconnected from the story I was reading, and I think it was more than just the fact that the book is geared to a (much) younger audience.

For example, the plot moves at a very strange pace.  The main character, Evie, goes out with three different guys within the span of about 50 pages, and when her best friend (who was there for her though all the difficulties in her past) starts dating someone Evie replaces her almost immediately with two other girls.  There is little consequence for anyone’s actions, and when there is, it is seemingly there only to serve the plot in furthering Evie’s relapse.

Now, I appreciated that the book brings forward previously shunned topics in YA – mental health and feminism – and although the book also deals with the more mature themes of sex and drugs, the overall tone of the book is more ‘friends forever’ – something that traditionally tends to come up more in books geared toward a younger audience.  I can see the book being very popular with the 12 to 16 year olds, the former learning about life and love from novels as people have done for centuries, and the latter, seeing themselves, their friends, and yes, the boys they go to school with, reflected in the characters.

For all the good work the book does in discussing feminist themes, however, there were still several moments of ‘you’re not like other girls’.  The main characters even discuss the Manic Pixie Dream Girl at one point – even though Evie herself is a sixteen year old film buff who hides her true self from everyone around her – especially the guys.  And sure, I suppose that’s kind of the point, but in the end I felt Evie only admitted her problems because they landed her back in hospital.  Am I missing something?

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