by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperCollins Release date : February 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Romance, Young Adult
Source: The Publisher | Format: eARC
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An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.
I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
There have been many times, when I have mentioned getting on waves of books. Where it seems like you read one book on any particular subject or genre, and that seems to be what you get stuck on for a while. Right now, I am stuck on with reading tear-your-heart-out, emotionally jarring and beautifully written stories about healing, love and hope. Faking Normal is no exception.
There have only been a hand-full of books (off the top of my head) that I can say — with certainty, that an author has taken a touchy subject by the horns and owned it. No sugar-coating, no easy way out– It’s raw, real and leaves you hurting because while you know these things do happen, you’ve never personally experienced something along the lines. It’s in your face and makes you see how something you hope never happens to you or ones you love, deal with such pain. You feel it; their despair and hopelessness. It takes a lot of finesse to artfully capture this.
Courtney nails it.
Her writing is so smooth and natural, I feel instantly in love with it. I am shocked this is her debut novel, because she is just amazing. I have read some authors 8th+ book and they can’t pull off such natural poise and prose. She is definitely an author to watch.
Faking Normal has not one but two, touchy subjects– sexual abuse and domestic violence. But what makes it slightly different then the others was Alexi’s silence. Not only after the fact, but during. Just because the word “no” isn’t spoken, doesn’t mean an invitation is there and it’s consensual. Alexi harbors a lot of guilt and blames herself for what happened, since she didn’t say no. She feels like there is something wrong with her, and honestly, I could see where one might think that. Although she is suffering tremendously, I love hot she was strong for Bodee. It’s takes a selfless, strong person to be such a crutch and light for someone else. Especially while dealing with her own pain.
I was instantly sold on Bodee. He is different, sure, but he was so sweet, loving and the best person to help Alexi. He is quiet, reserved and is harboring a lot of devastating emotions over his Mother’s death. But he too, is so selfless and would do anything to help Alexi. I loved watching these two get close and start to heal.
Besides Alexi’s relationship with Bodee, I loved the friendship she has with Heather and Liz. Maybe it’s been the books I have picked up lately, but I was in desperate need of friendship love. Their banter and easy camaraderie was so refreshing to see. The relationship between Alexi and her sister too, was very painful to witness but very much realistic.
This brings me to the ending. Initially, I just sat there with this “huh?” look on my face. I was really shocked where the book ended. I know this is because I was hoping for more… resolution, I guess. But after I thought about it, I feel like this was the best way to end it. The story wasn’t necessarily about would happen in the end; it was about healing, finding your voice, hope and love.
My Peeve– There are two minor things that bothered me. 1.) The religious references. It wasn’t enough to make me unconformable but enough where it was noted. 2.) The suspense just wasn’t there. I figured out pretty early on (28%) what happened with whom, and who the mysterious “Captain Lyric” was.
Overall- I loved this.. Beautiful, powerful and emotional. This is a fantastic debut and can’t wait to see more what Courtney brings us next. I highly recommend.