Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Depression, Romance, General, Humorous, Health & Daily Living, Girls & Women
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Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.
Here’s a confession to start this review off: agoraphobia confuses me, because like a lot of people say, it’s a silent illness. You can’t see that someone is sick, there’s no symptoms that you can see just to look at a person, and I love that there are now more books about mental health, because for someone like me, who hasn’t ever suffered with her mental health, and struggles to understand how people can just not leave the house (because I have to, I have to work, because where else does money come from?) books like Under Rose-Tainted Skies really help me to understand better, be more understanding, and to see into Norah’s world was frightening because I would absolutely hate to suffer the way she suffers.
Norah’s world isn’t a case of just sitting at home all day, watching Jeremy Kyle and reading all the books. Her head is a scary place to be, because she sees danger everywhere. Eating can cause choking, you can fall down the stairs, drown in the shower, etc, the possibilities are endless and that’s the part of mental illness you don’t get to see, what goes in on someone’s head. It’s scary. And, without belittling other, more out there disabilities, that’s probably the worst kind of illness because it’s like your brain or your head is attacking you, questioning everything and that’s what makes this book such an important read, the kind of book every single library should have, every school should have on its curriculum.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies isn’t a book you enjoy, you can’t say you enjoy hearing about someone’s illness, but I liked getting to know Norah, to see how her mind ticks, to see what it is that troubles her constantly, and I liked to see Luke see that. Because he was very understanding, he was so cute with his notes, and he seemed to just sense that Norah needed space, needed to go at her own pace.
Louise Gornall has written probably one of the most important books ever. Yes, that’s what I think. I’m always keen to learn more about mental illness, because I’m lucky to never have suffered (and feel even luckier, because it sounds absolutely terrifying) and this has just opened my eyes that little bit more, to understand that not everyone is so lucky, and that agoraphobia can be absolutely crippling. But the book also has hope. Which is even more important, because (it seems) agoraphobia doesn’t have to define you, and to see Norah change and grow, and even do the littlest of things is like the most massive achievement that you want to give her a round of applause. I would be absolutely chuffed to pieces if Louise went back to Norah, because it intrigues me massively to see how you overcome agoraphobia, if you can? To see how Norah progresses, not because I want her to get better (if that’s the right term?), but because it seemed like Norah wanted to progress, wanted to be able to do more, even if it is just watching the rain, ya know? There’s a part of me that will always wonder about Norah.