faking normal: book review

January 27, 2016

I picked FAKING NORMAL up at a Barnes & Noble in Chicago. I kept picking it up, reading a random bit, putting it down… and then being drawn back to the book to pick it up again. That’s how I pick books – either by the cover (of course I judge books by their covers… that’s what they’re for), or by reading either the first few lines or some random page. If I want to know more, I buy it. It’s only failed me once or twice in all my book buying years.

Anyway, FAKING NORMAL was captivating, not in a “this book is so suspenseful” way (or, not in the bookstore, at least), but in the “I seriously cannot stop reading this book”. It came home with me. I started reading it on the airplane, and let me tell you, there’s a serious tissue warning for this book. You should be able to gather that from the back of the book or from the first few pages (it starts at a funeral, come on), so that’s not a spoiler. If anything, it’s an incentive to read the book.

It’s a beautiful book. It deals with loss and heartache, with friendship and romance. It deals with growing up and not knowing how to act or think or be. It deals with strange habits and coping methods. It deals with healing.

I love it. I’m going to put together a list of my favorite books of all time – that’ll be out sometime soon – and this one is on it, for sure. I don’t even have to think about that. I literally started the book over as soon as I finished it, and when I got home (because remember, reading on airplanes… which also meant flight attendants asking if I was okay…), I started looking for fan art. I needed fan art.

What I found, instead, was an ebook. Courtney Stevens, you rock.

THE BLUE-HAIRED BOY is Bodee’s story. It’s a prequel (can I call it that? It’s set before the  events of FAKING NORMAL. It’s extra information and BOY IS IT LOVELY), but both books are stand alone. You read one, you’ll want to read the other.

I’m not sure which one I want you to read first. I would probably say, go with FAKING NORMAL and then read Bodee’s story, only because that way, you fall in love with Bodee in the order he was written. (Note that I have no idea if Courtney wrote TBHB first or second… but it’s listed second on her website, so I’m gonna stick with that order.) If you can’t stand sad books, then read TBHB first… and then you’ll be compelled to read FN, so whoops, sorry. Alexi and Bodee… they’re worth it.

I already wanted a boy like Bodee in my life, not even halfway through the story, but I really wanted one after the ebook. That’s a good story. Courtney has a way with words that I really appreciate and admire, and I spent most of the time reading both books wanting to hug the characters (and punch a couple. It’s not a high school book if you don’t want to punch someone).

The older I get, the weirder I find it to read books where the main characters are 16. I’ll continue doing so, don’t get me wrong, love me some YA novels… but I wasn’t like most of the characters in YA books. I didn’t drive, I didn’t really ride around with other 16 year olds that had cars, and I was home for dinner (almost) every night (shoutout to play practice). That said, the characters felt 16, but they didn’t feel childish. They didn’t feel fake. There were moments in FAKING NORMAL where I was like, yeah, this is what would happen in real life. (MINI SPOILER, but it’s on the back of the book… ) Bodee moves in with Alexi’s family. I won’t tell you why exactly, because that IS a spoiler, but it’s a logical move. Courtney sets it up so that it’s not a random thing – even less random if you read TBHB – and so I had no problem just going with it. Even after several days have gone by, it still seems like the very logical thing to happen.

I guess my point is, it’s not your typical high school book. Not even close. The problems they face are hard, and the emotions raw, and the situation real.

(Please note that I’m an emotional sap, so just because cried doesn’t mean you will. Also, I cry at both happy AND sad. So just go with it. This book makes you feel things, which for me also equals tears.)

Check out Courtney’s website here.

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