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.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Not the usual book I tend to read, I picked up Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall because I wanted to see if she did justice to the way mental health issues are portrayed in YA media, and I guess media in general. The depressed, brooding anti-hero always so swoon worthy and magically not depressed or broody because he’s found someone. Or the really smart girl that suffers from social anxiety suddenly becoming a social butterfly after meeting her prince and all her worries just float away. I wanted to see someone like me in this book and happily, I did! Gornall does a tremendous job portraying the feelings of anxiety that come with agoraphobia and OCD, the struggle the characters in the book go through, and then tops it with an ending that doesn’t seem contrived or belittling to the mental health community.
The first part of the book is hard to get into. Norah’s anxiety jumps off the page and is physically palpable to those sensitive to it. I know it almost sent me into an anxiety attack and I had to put it down for a bit to breathe. That’s how good Gornall’s writing is. The picture she paints is such a great example of mental illness it’s amazing and heartbreaking all at once. Norah doesn’t understand why her brain is the way it is and she hates herself for it. She wants to be normal. She wants to go outside. She just can’t and there’s no reason for it. She just can’t. That’s what I loved about the book. Other stories that don’t “get it” usually give a traumatic event as the reason. Oh, she experienced this, or someone close to her died, etc. That can happen, but with Norah, we get the other half. The voice of those that haven’t had anything happen and whose brains just decided one day to start going into overdrive on the what ifs until it paralyzes you, literally.
The conflicts and resolution of the book are realistic and well presented. From a literary perspective, I love how everything comes together and nothing seems far-fetched. Things happen and it makes sense. From a mental health perspective, I love that regardless of anything that happens, things aren’t magically solved. Nothing can just magically cure Norah of her OCD or agoraphobia. It’s something she needs to work on every single day.
With great pacing and amazing characters, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall does a superb job of creating a story that is fun and likeable, while still serious enough to handle the topic of mental illness and actually do it justice instead of sugar coating everything.