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/TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF-HARM/
(I, myself, am a recovering agoraphobiac living with severe anxiety and depression so I was very hesitant about going into this novel, purely because I didn’t want to get triggered. Luckily, despite connecting to Norah on a very deep level, I was able to deal with it. However, I would advise people like me to only read this book if you’re able. No book is worth risking your mental health.)
“Mental health is usually the last place people go when they think about someone being sick… I’ve heard you don’t look mentally ill at least a half a dozen times in the past four years, a couple of those times from my former friends. I blame the media, stereotyping ‘mentally ill’ and calling every murderer since Manson crazy. People always seem to be expecting wide eyes and a kitchen knife dripping with blood.”
We follow the story of seventeen-year-old, Norah who lives with agoraphobia and because of this, the story mainly takes place within her home and safe place. She also battles with OCD and self-harming tendencies (this story also focuses on what it means to self-harm and the different categories it falls under.) If you’re looking for a plot-based book, you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a book about mental-health and its effect on daily life, you’ll find it here. Louise Gornall, in my opinion, absolutely nailed living with these conditions and has done it justice. Yes, Norah meets a boy and she falls in love but her mental illness is never glossed over, not even at the end.
The relationship between Norah and Luke was lovely, healthy and realistic. I love how they chose to communicate sometimes by writing on windows or on their hands when Norah wasn’t feeling up to talking. I saw a review saying that it was unrealistic to find a boy who would accept your mental illness *insert eye roll* but they actually do exist, guys?? I am so done with people saying people who live with mental health issues cannot find happiness. Another highlight was definitely Norah’s relationship with her mum and her mum is the coolest (I mean, she wore her hair in space buns??) They have such a strong relationship that reminds me of my mother and I so I loved their moments together. They truly were heartwarming, you can see how much her mum supports her and yet never pushes her too much. Norah also has regular visits with her therapist, Dr. Reeves and I wish I had a therapist as lovely as her. A lot of advice that was given by her, I definitely took on board myself which is something I’m incredibly grateful to the author for.
Overall, this is a very quick read (if I didn’t have a migraine for three days) and if you’re searching for a book to either help you learn about mental illness or to see yourself in Norah, then I would definitely recommend this. It’s a hard story to read, especially when Norah relapses and the event that takes place near the end of the book made me anxious and uncomfortable but that was because of good writing and a relatable main character. We go deep into the inner mechanics of Norah’s mind, the questions she is constantly asking herself, her worries about germs and disasters but she also has the ability to laugh at herself, to have your typical teenage-girl issues and that is why she is a character you can immediately jump into your shoes of, even if you don’t particularly want to. This book shows the dark side to mental health that isn’t romanticised or at all stereotypical despite its MC falling in love. There isn’t a cure or a happy ever after, Norah is still ill and still recovering at the end of the story. Give this book a shot but look after yourselves.