Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: Faking Normal


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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.

Faking Normal is not an easy book to read. It's also not the type of book that you should read "for fun". It's an important book, though, and one I encourage every young adult to read at some point in their life. And this isn't because I know Courtney personally, and it isn't because I enjoyed reading Faking Normal. This book is important, because it has the potential to empower people all over the world to speak up. The words in this book paint a picture of Alexi's struggle, and how she manages to overcome it. And if Alexi can find her voice, so can you!

For those who don't know, Faking Normal is the story of Alexi Litrell, and her struggle to cope with a traumatic experience. Her life is measured in days since the incident, and she copes in the only way she knows how: inflicting physical damage to herself and keeping silent. It helps that she has someone who shares her love for music, someone who leaves lyrics for Alexi to complete and someone who completes her lyrics. This mysterious "Captain Lyric" is one of the only things that gets Alexi through the day without breaking down.

Then weeks after the incident, her life changes. Bodee's father kills his mother, and just like that, these two misfits are brought together. Bodee has his own struggles, but demonstrates a great deal of composure and strength. He knows Alexi is coping with something terrible, but never forces Alexi to talk about it. He takes time to get to know her, and more importantly, helps Alexi find her voice.

Courtney's writing is blunt and honest, filled with some beautiful moments. I thought the pacing was perfect, with a satisfactory ending. There may be some who feel that there ought to be more consequences for the perpetrator's crimes, but that's not the point of Faking Normal. This book is all about Alexi realizing that she's not at fault. It's about her finally admitting what happened to those closest to her. It's about Alexi finally standing up for herself.  Alexi's character growth is absolutely astounding, and I was so proud of her when I finished the book.

This is a book that was likely difficult to write, and it's a difficult book to read, but reading Faking Normal is worth it in the end. And I hope that girls (and even guys) all over the world realize that they don't ever have to victimize themselves. I hope that this book gives readers courage.

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