Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

FakingNormalFaking Normal
Courtney C. Stevens
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: February 25th 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
Pre-Order: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

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.

I. Am. A. Mess. I have to get this review out now or else I won’t be able to write anything down. I never expected to enter this book as if I was entering a roller coaster, but that’s what it ended up being–an up-and-down roller coaster of emotions. I’m actually speechless–frozen–I don’t have enough words, if any, to express myself, so please excuse the babbling, blubbering mess about to be written.

Written in first person, Alexi captures your attention from the moment you start reading her story. Her voice, her situation–even her denial–all works to pull you in. Alexi’s being going through the motions ever since that night in her backyard. She’s done everything, said everything, to keep things normal and to forget. She goes to school, hangs out with her friends, goes home, and does the same thing the next day. Yet every night she hides in her closet, counts the spaces in the air vent, and scratches at the back of her neck, until the pain she feels outside barely resembles what’s inside.

Alexi is barely a shell of the girl she used to be and every word, every page, makes you mourn for what she’s lost. I honestly couldn’t put this book down. I started reading it last night until my eyes couldn’t stay open anymore and I just finished it. Through snippets here and there we get a sense of what happened to Alexi until you finally know and understand what she went through. Writing about such a delicate topic is such a difficult thing to do, but Stevens wrote and delivered Alexi’s story perfectly. That’s what this story is about–the aftermath of a girl’s undoing by the hands of someone she trusted and loved. Not only that, but it shows how fear, embarrassment, and the uncertainty of the truth works to, little by little, bury you in the lies you have so carefully crafted.

When he led me to the back corner of the pool, I was still thinking what he taught me to think. That best buddies keep each other’s secrets.

The psychology between the pages jumps at you and makes you really think about why so many women and children repress memories that have the power to break them. Even though I was begging Alexi to tell her parents, to tell someone about what happened to her, I knew that it would be anything but easy for her to get the words out. You never expect bad things to happen to you, until one day they do–and it’s even worse when it’s done by someone you know, someone you care about, someone you trust. That is what struck me the most about this novel. In many cases like Alexi’s, the people closest to you are the ones who have the most power to hurt you.

The other person who stole my heart was Bodee. Like Alexi, Bodee carries his fair share of demons around with him everywhere he goes. He’s lived a hard life, made even harder by recent events. The loss and pain these two characters carry is enough to break your heart. To know such tragedy at such a young age ripped me up in pieces and made me ache for these two lost souls. The healing process is one that is never easy, but little by little you see Alexi and Bodee help strengthen and heal each other. The journey they embark on together, the lyrics they pass back and forth on a desk, they all worked perfectly to heal the broken parts inside of them.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Told in a beautiful, poignant new voice, Faking Normal is a book that stays with you–in your mind, in your heart–long after you’ve turned the last page.

5/5 Stars

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