Review: Am I Normal Yet?

am i normal yetAm I Normal Yet? (Spinster Club #1) by Holly Bourne
Published: August 1st 2015 by Usborne Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite
Goodreads

SynopsisAll Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love? 

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It’s apparently been months since I’ve written and posted a review. I’m a bit rusty -and I can’t quite believe it’s been that long already. Today, I’m reviewing one of the books that will most likely end up on my favorite books of the year list in December.

I don’t know where to begin when talking about this book. Not only is it a delightful contemporary read, it also manages to tackle some serious issues and topics while being funny too.

This is the story of Evie, a girl who is just about to return to college after struggling with her mental health. This is set in the UK, by the way, so college = high school and Evie is 16. It’s about her wanting to be “normal”. She wants to have the same experiences her peers are having, like college, parties, best friends, boyfriend, etc. 

First of all,  I want to say that this book is really funny. Yes, it deals with some serious topics. But Evie’s voice is genuinely funny, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading. I’ve started color coding the books I read with tabs, and blue is for funny moments. I’ve tabbed quite a few ones!

Then, there are the amazing characters. As I mentioned, Evie is the main character. She’s kind, funny, smart and such a good friend. And she just wants to be loved and accepted, which is something most people can relate to. She also wants friends who won’t stop hanging out with her when they start a relationship. Evie was diagnosed with OCD and General Anxiety Disorder before the start of this book, and she is currently on medication and seeing a psychiatrist. 

But Evie is not the only incredible character. I not only got invested in her life, but in those of the side characters as well. Specifically Lottie and Amber! I’m so excited the next books will be centered around them, because I can’t wait. Not only are these girls beautiful and smart and kick-ass, they also start a Spinster Club together. They get together, choose a topic and discuss feminism. I can’t tell you how much I loved that. The way these characters delve into the topic of feminism and challenge each other to think differently is incredible. I want to be part of a Spinster Club too. 

If you weren’t convinced by the amazing friendships and feminism in this book, the mental health discussions will win you over. This is the first book I’ve read about a character with OCD that truly made me feel like I could understand. Obviously, I could never fully understand what OCD is like, because I don’t suffer from it. But Evie allowed me a glimpse into her life, and it broadened my understanding massively. The book includes updates on her medication and therapy sessions, as well as the bad thoughts she battles every day. I was so invested in Evie’s life that I felt every emotion she did. 

I was lucky enough to meet Holly Bourne at YALC in the last weekend of July. She signed my copy, and noticed the copious amounts of tabs I’d left in it. I told her I had a different color for everything, such as green for quotes, yellow for inspiring and important moments, blue for funny and pink for relationships. She was so delighted to hear it! She is honestly the kindest person, and I want to buy every single one of her books.

[talking about mental health awareness]
I can say, with some confidence, that it’s gone too far the other way. Because now mental health disorders have gone “mainstream”. And for all the good it’s brought people like me who have been given therapy and stuff, there’s a lot of bad it’s brought too.

Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.” 
NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT. 
“Oh my god, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.” 
NO YOU FUCKING DIDN’T. 
“I’m so hormonal today. I  just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUP UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE. 

This is one of the best books I’ve read. It should be read in every school, by every teenager. Even if you don’t really read contemporary YA, please give this a go. It will challenge you the entire way through.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Am I Normal Yet?

  1. I have this book to read. I have lots of Holly Bourne books to read as people say wonderful things about her writing! Glad to see this book was so good for you. I love the sound of the characters and the fact the book can help you understand OCD and what having it must be like it brilliant. I cannot agree more that mental health issues making their way into the mainstream is a double-edged sword as when these things make their way into everyday language they then become over used and lose their meaning. I think this is the kind of book I need to read. Also, I’m from the UK why have I not read more UKYA books.

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  2. I love the sound of a book that can be funny whilst confronting serious things like mental illness and feminism. I feel like books that tackle the more serious topics in contemporary tend to be very not-funny, so this is different! I’m really interested in reading this now, from all the things you have mentioned. And it’s always a bonus for me if the author is really nice (I know it shouldn’t matter but it’s always disappointing when they’re not great).

    If you’re looking for another book with a main character that has OCD I highly recommend History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera – it’s #ownvoices in terms of OCD rep, and is generally an amazing book.

    Thanks for the lovely review!

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    • That’s one of the reasons I love it so much! I think it’s very difficult to create a book that’s both funny and deals with difficult topics. Sometimes it’s too silly or sounds like it’s making fun of the topic, or sometimes it’s just not funny. But I think this one managed it well 😀

      Thank you! I’ve never read anything by Adam Silvera, so I’m definitely going to look into that.

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  3. Jolien! You’re back. I’m so happy to be reading on your blog again. YES! Haven’t read this book. But, SOMEONE (Inge and Ely) talks about it a lot. Is it only one book out in the series so far?
    *HUGS*
    So good to hear from you again.

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  4. I’m so glad you ended up liking it! I feel like I recommend this book to everyone who stands even close enough for me to hear, hahaha. I really appreciated the mental health representation, but like you said, it was also surprisingly funny AND badass and feminist. I have so much love for this series.

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