Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Release date: February 25th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 213
Source: Edelweiss

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.

Faking Normal is a thought-provoking novel about a girl trying to find herself and a boy who gives her the strength to do so while healing himself from the hurt he's faced too. This book has a pretty deep message in it, but it's not too serious so I really liked that. Alexi and Bodee make an awesome team.

Over the summer, Alexi's life became divided into 'before' and 'after'. She doesn't know how to handle what happened to her, and she resorts to tearing the skin at the back of her neck, in a similar fashion to cutters. A boy she doesn't know well, Bodee Lennox, has something terrible happen in his family a little later, and Alexi's family takes him in. As Alexi gets to know the 'Kool-Aid kid', she realizes that she's got to stop blaming herself. And the mysterious student who writes lyrics to her on her desk manages to help her out too. But in the end Alexi and Bodee both have to face their demons on their own, and they give each other the willpower to do that.

Even after finishing the book, I'm not sure what I think of Alexi. I think it's pretty obvious what happened to her, and I really feel for her because of that. But I honestly cannot believe she didn't say anything. I don't even know if you'd call it a rape if she never even said no. All she did was cry silently, and how the hell is that going to help her? Her weakness throughout the novel really frustrated me, and she only finds strength towards the end. It's kind of pathetic. And her reason for staying silent about it (after as well as during) is even more pathetic. I just don't get it. So I was mentally berating her while reading but at the same time I really got into her story and I couldn't help but sympathize with her and the situation she's in. I also did like her kindness towards Bodee and their easy connection.

On the other hand, I found myself really loving Bodee. He's very different from anyone I've read about - he dyes his hair with a different Kool-Aid colour every day, and they're all pretty bright and noticeable. But Bodee himself is not. After his mom is murdered (by his dad, I might add), Bodee's life is turned upside down. He moves in with Alexi's family, and decides he can help this girl get her life back. Bodee is compassionate and incredibly protective of Alexi, which is really sweet. He's surprisingly strong, both physically and mentally. I loved his interactions with Alexi because they were so profound yet so light-hearted at the same time.

There are two major mysteries in this novel - the guy who raped Alexi and the mysterious Captain Lyric, the guy with whom Alexi communicates solely through lyrics written on a table. Don't worry, they're not the same person! One's very predictable. But the other, not so much. I found myself thinking it was one guy, and then it turned out to be someone unexpected. Okay that's a little spoilery, sorry. I won't say any more. But there are definitely surprises in this, even though some parts are pretty obvious.

Stevens' writing is great - it's smooth and so experienced that I can't believe this is her debut YA. She captures Alexi's voice so well. I actually went back and re-read most of this novel after finishing it the first time, mostly because I wanted to look for hints I might have missed, and because I just wanted to relive Alexi and Bodee's conversations. They're so amazing for each other. Though this is a premise that a lot of YA contemporaries would have used, there are several little things that set Faking Normal apart from, well, the norm. So I'd definitely recommend this one even if you're not into these kind of books. I'm not, and I think this was a great read.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5


  1. I really enjoyed this book as well :D I'm glad you liked it. <3 Thank you so much for sharing your awesome review :) I really enjoyed the writing as well. <3

  2. I really want to read this book, it sounds really deep and thought-provoking. So glad you liked it! Great review :)

    Pavan @ Keep it Fictional

  3. These types are always hard to read, and I never know what to really think of them. It totally overwhelmed me, so I couldn't even finish it. It's hard to know what to say about it because, anyway you put it, it is rape, she didn't fight back ,she froze, which would be your typical reaction, and I mean, she's young. The thing that got to me though, through that time (I think I got half way) she doesn't say anything, he's there, and it's just say something. It's not going to change what happened, but that's when you begin to gain control over it. I guess you can't really imagine why someone wouldn't if you've never been through it yourself. On a lighter note, I totally adored Bodee, all he's been through and he's helping her, wanting to help her. Really, really, loved that guy. It kind of makes me want to finish it, and I probably will one day, but for now I've left it. Great review! :)


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