Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Published: February 25h 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover, 321 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
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.
Although I routinely go out of my way to avoid contemporary fiction (especially the so called issue books), I can, off the top of my head, name at least five that made me want to curl up in a fetal position and cry my little heart out. Which, make no mistake, is a very good thing. They are the books I don’t hesitate to recommend to teens and adults alike, books I admire even though they make me extremely uncomfortable. Because, in the rare event when I do decide to pick up an issue book, I want it to shake me to the core, make me thing about things I’d rather ignore and force me to acknowledge the potential ugliness of the world.
Faking Normal isn’t one of those books.
Admittedly, I did finish it more or less in one sitting, which would usually mean that I enjoyed it greatly. But you see, I shouldn’t have been able to breeze through a book about two severely damaged teens. I should have felt the need to stop and distance myself at some point, as I so often do. A book like Faking Normal should have been emotionally overwhelming, but instead, I more or less flatlined.
Even after many hours spent thinking about it, I cannot quite pinpoint what it was about Faking Normal that rubbed me the wrong way. Techinically, Stevens did everything right. Her writing is almost flawless and her pacing superb. I adored Bodee, the wonderful Kool-Aid Kid and there were times when I did feel Alexi’s pain, although not as often as I’d have liked. I think it was mostly Alexi’s attacker that bothered me. His reactions and overall characterization simply didn’t ring true.
The mystery surrounding Captain Lyric added a much needed touch of normalcy into this heavily burdened story. I believe it to be a calculated move on Stevens’ part, designed to constantly remind the reader that Alexi is indeed a very young girl, and in that, it was successful. But the identity of Captain Lyric wasn’t a mystery for the reader at all. Looking at him from this side, there was really only one possible solution.
The understated beauty of Courtney’s Stevens’ prose isn’t likely to disappear with a topic change, which is why I won’t hesitate to read and even pre-order her sophomore novel. She undoubtedly has enormous potential. I wonder where she’ll take us next.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.