Friday, February 19, 2016

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Our book club took a funny turn this month and I'm so grateful! While dealing with fairly serious subject matter, Sophie Kinsella has come up with a funny, engaging novel full of great characters. I wouldn't have expected a book about a teen dealing with mental health issues to be so funny, but it really is.

Audrey is a teenager in England who experienced some serious trauma at her school. That is not fully explained, but it seems to have been some serious bullying from a group of girls who are jealous of her academic and sports success. As a result of this bullying she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks and likely some PTSD (her medical diagnosis is also never fully explained except to say that she is not bipolar). She needs to leave school and spend some time at home getting healthy before moving to a new school.

At home she is surrounded by her parents and her brothers Frank and Felix. Teenaged Frank is, according to their Mum, a video game addict and Mum is determined to get him off the computer and into the outdoors. Felix is only four and adds a lot of humour to the different situations. Frank's friend Linus is also a frequent visitor to their house and becomes very special to Audrey and a big part of her healing.

It doesn't seem like a book about extreme bullying and the subsequent anxiety should be funny but these characters just seem so real. The Mum is absolutely hysterical in her determination to end Frank's video game addiction. Audrey's counsellor gives her the task of making a movie as part of her therapy and the scenes she captures of her family around the house are so funny. I once found myself laughing out loud in a medical waiting room while reading this book.

I do find that Audrey's healing is a little too tidy and easy. I've never dealt with anxiety myself but from what I understand from others who have, it's not that easy. But I do understand that's what fits with the tone of the book. It does seem to give a fairly accurate picture of what happens in an anxiety attack and how someone living with them has to adapt their life as a result of them.

It is a very quick, easy read and highly enjoyable.

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