Book: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall
Genre: YA contemporary
Publisher: Clarion Books (Jan. 3, 2017)
My Rating: ★★★★
Synopsis: Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
Disclaimer: I was provided a free review copy from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review. Thank you Clarion Books!
TRIGGER WARNING: MY GOD I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THERE WASN'T A TRIGGER WARNING IN THE BOOK BUT I AM TELLING YOU NOW. THERE IS A LOT OF SELF-HARM IN THIS BOOK, PARTICULARLY CUTTING AND SCRATCHING. IF THIS TRIGGERS YOU, I SUGGEST SKIPPING THOSE CHAPTERS OR COMPLETELY NOT READING THE BOOK and this review to be honest. I talk about it in the paragraph highlighted in YELLOW.
What to say about this book without spoiling anything... Honestly I was not expecting to like this book nearly as much as I did or identify with the main character, Norah, like I did. For those of you who didn't read the synopsis, Norah suffers from agoraphobia and OCD which of course leads to a lot of anxiety. Like Norah, I suffer from OCD as well as anxiety, and although I have different compulsion than her, I could completely understand how she felt about almost everything. The author based the novel off of herself and you can really tell because of how real and raw everything was. At times for me, it was like I was reading about myself of looking at a mirror, and that was scary, but enlightening to know that I am not alone in how I feel. I'm just really pleased with how the author tackled these mental illnesses and the central message that yes, mental illnesses ARE ILLNESSES, and just because you cannot see the sickness doesn't mean people are not sick.
What really made this book a hit for me were the characters. I'm not going to say much about them because I think they are something you need to experience on your own, but I think you will fall in love with them the way I did. Now granted, some of the characters *cough* the main love interest *cough* are unrealistic as hell, but hey, it's fiction, right?
Now I have two reasons why I cannot give this book a higher rating: the plot and how self-harm was tackled. Let's start off easy with just the plot. So uhm... basically there was no plot. I mean, I don't know how else to say it. It seemed like there could have been a direction the book was going, but then something happens and everything swerves into another direction and the ending becomes really cramped. I really wish that hadn't happened because I feel like the book could have been flushed out in a more meaningful way.
Let's talk about my biggest issue with the book and arguably the most important issue. So Norah self-harms, which isn't my problem, but how the author handles the self-harm is. First of all, there were no trigger warnings, and in this case, the book really needs trigger warnings because the self-harm is described in such great detail from the emotions Norah are feeling to the pooling of a blood. I'm going to be honest, I had to skip through these parts because I just couldn't bear to read them without feeling anxiety and like I was going to pass out. That's not even my biggest issue though. No, I hate how they did nothing to address Norah's cutting issue. Yes, they address the scratching because the therapist knows about the scratching, but they do nothing about the cutting, and I think that is a horrible decision. The book had the perfect opportunity to address such an issue and how truly bad it is, but it didn't. How the author condoned such an act is besides me.
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