Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062245384 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062245380 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Kaitlin
An edgy, realistic debut novel praised by the New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, as “a beautiful reminder that amid our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves.”
Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox—”the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up.
Quick & Dirty: This novel highlights the troubles of a depressed teen and her journey to fixing herself with the help of an unexpected friend. A great story and an incredibly sad ending, and therefore worth a read!
Opening Sentence: Black funeral dress.
Faking Normal is a depressing but beautifully written story of a teen who has mastered the act of pretending to be okay when her insides are a chaotic mess and her neck is criss-crossed with the scars she inflicted on herself. Alexi, or Lex, is stuck between denial of what happened over the summer and struggling with how to deal with it. Because something did happen, something that ruined her and left her in this shaken state, something that no one can help…except, it seems, a new addition to her household, Bodee. Bodee’s abusive father murdered his mom, and Bodee understands the hopeless hurting she is going through. As the story goes on, Bodee and Lex help each other to heal and let go, slowly but surely.
Lex is very fragile. She is broken, and that is obvious from the first page. Her best friends, Liz and Heather, don’t know that she is, and neither do her parents . . . she is dealing alone. Bodee is her rock. At first, he’s just the Kool-Aid kid, and then he becomes the kid whose dad murdered his mom, and then he became Lex’s comfort.
Okay, let’s talk about Captain Lyric. The Captain writes lyrics from a song on Lex’s fourth period desk every week, and Lex (a huge fan of music) always knows the next words. Then she leaves a new challenge for the Captain. He always seems to know just what songs to use, and how she is feeling. This was a mystery that lasted almost the whole book, and something that dragged me on when the book became slow. You fall in love with the Captain as you read. I had my suspicions about who he was, and I was correct, so it wasn’t very hard to guess. But all the same, it added another layer and spiced up this novel a bit.
This book didn’t have a very stable pace. In the beginning, it went at a reasonably fast one, but towards the middle it began to slow and get boring. I understand that the author is letting Bodee and Lex get closer, and the author kept giving different hints to the different mysteries in the story probably to keep us reading, but it was a drag to get through a period of about 20 pages. After that, things began to get faster, and then moved very quickly. Information was loaded on you, but since the author explains so clearly and gave it to you in an organized manner, you weren’t confused.
The ending. The ending was heart-wrenchingly sad and yet gave you a certain degree of pleasure when you see the wrongdoer of the story get punished. If I was a crier, I probably would have cried, but I’m not, so I mostly just screwed up my face and whimpered. It was a powerful statement to end a novel like this, and I really respect the way it was executed.
Altogether, this is a very good read, and deserves a try. Fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower will very much enjoy this. It has the perfect blend of sadness and a healing contentment, and the tone is set very nicely. Read this if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because you won’t regret it!
But I don’t tell him to go back inside or that everything will be fine. I just sit beside him and let the inch between my thigh and his remain. He cracks his knuckles compulsively, and I stare at the break in the concrete where the little green weed lives.
When the funeral director finds us, I finally speak. “See you Monday?”
And that’s it. I leave Bodee on the bench. The space between us is elastic now, stretching into yards.
When I reach my mom, she kisses my forehead. “Lex, I love you,” she says.
“I love you, too.” and as I say it, I think, no one will say that to Bodee anymore.
FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Faking Normal. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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