Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall) 

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Rating: ★★★.5

Synopsis:

Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.

For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …

An important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD.

Review:

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is another YA contemporary I’ve tried recently. I’ve heard rave reviews about this and was very lucky to have won this in a giveaway held by Hannah of @Bookfangirling!My last YA book surrounding agoraphobia was Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella which I didn’t enjoy as much, so I was eager to see how Rose is in comparison.

Unfortunately, I am one of the few readers who find themselves on the fence for this one. I don’t entirely hate this book, but I’m not one to rave about this either. Here are some comparison points:

The Good

You have to credit on how wonderfully descriptive this book is of agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety. I was quite shocked at how depressing the first chapter of this book was. It literally described the horror that went inside Norah’s head as she’s struggling to cross the 50 yards spanning from her front door to her mom’s car…all to get to her therapy session.

Gornall did a wonderful job in bringing a realistic point of view of the mental illness surrounding agoraphobia in which there is no foreseeable future of that person ever getting better. But instead, the character learns how to adapt and cope with the illness and makes the best out of it.

“My head is a ball of wool after it’s been mauled by a kitten”

Although it is supposed to be centred around the blooming relationship between Norah and Luke, I’m glad a good portion of the book was focused on Norah’s coping mechanism and how she lets us in into the horrors of having OCD and the anxieties accompanying being agoraphobic. Unlike Finding Audrey where Linus magically inspires Audrey to leave her house and meet him in Starbucks, Luke doesn’t have some magical powers on Norah. He acts as a door which reveals to Norah the possibilities of dating or having a relationship despite her mental conditions. And I like this aspect of the book. Eveeryone deserves a sense of normalcy in their chaotic mind, so having Norah crushing over Luke was a pretty cute thing to read.

The Not-So-Good

Now, because of its such realistic perspectives on these mental illness, it really took a toll on me whilst I was reading it. I am so easily affected by characters emotions that I felt I was spiraling into depression for a bit there. Which is what made me not enjoy the book as much as others. Imagine coming home after a long day of work and reading this on the train. It makes you even more fatigued believe it or not. So I’d warn future readers to be properly mentally prepared if you want to read this.

On top of that, I felt the plot was very weak in a sense that I didn’t know where the book was headed. I wish the story was stretched out for a longer period instead of a brief couple of months where she met Luke and bam! Her life changes (predictably). I would have loved to see their friendship blossom into more challenging adult situations. Because at the end of the day, mental illness is present regardless who we meet and fall in love with.

My next point for disliking this book has got to be Luke. Now, before the loyal readers of this book slay me, may I ask why he is made out to be so effin’ perfect? He’s described as perfect, and somehow he’s lured to Norah instead of the cool kids in his school? I’m sure there are guys like this somewhere, but I am yet convinced that a perfect, straight teenage white guy would want to ditch the chance of being the popular new kid in school to hang out with an agoraphobic. And because I relate to books not only by their emotions, but also by how realistic the situation is. And to me, this is not realistic. But that’s just my opinion on the matter 🙂

..

So that’s all I have to say about this book! I would recommend this to anyone who would want to read more on agoraphobia on a deeper level. But just be prepared on how mentally exhausting this book can be. That and how sarcastic Norah can be (pleasantly).

“If you’re bleeding or feeling dizzy, the internet will tell you you have cancer” 

This book wasn’t exactly for me, but I can see how it has appealed to so many people. I hope you’ll enjoy it more than me! 😀

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