I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
As some of you may know (as I kept talking how I got this book literally everywhere), I got to know about this book through my favorite BookTuber, Mollie Reads video.
Let me begin with telling you that I LOVED it. I really enjoyed reading it.
That said, I was a bit iffy about how many stars this book deserves. For me, it was not like straight five stars. I debated whether to settle for 4 stars, actually.
The reason that I gave it 5 stars is the fact I had never read any book feels so realistic that deals with mental illness. I seriously doubt any fictions have ever faced the issue of mental illness head-on other than non-fictions. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t. I must admit that I have hardly ever read such books in the past though.
Anyways, for that reason, despite some issues that I had with this book, I gave it five stars. I wanted to acknowledge the author’s integrity in weaving a story revolving a character who has been suffering from OCDs, anxiety and agoraphobia.
What really impressed me was the writing; it is so powerful and solid. I think it comes from the fact the author herself has been battling against agoraphobia, so the words and descriptions of Norah’s emotional turmoil and conflicts when she’s assaulted by panic attacks feel so realistic and painful at times. It felt as though I had sneaked inside her brain and seen what exactly were going on. Everything, every word felt so poignant, gut-wrenching, and so brutal. The author didn’t sugar-coat nor minced words thus Norah’s angst and plague came right into me and sliced into my heart. I felt like I had a first-hand experience of panic attacks or OCD-induced anxieties.
It was so raw and heavy, yet I really, truly appreciate the truthfulness and integrity.
As to the story line, -buckle up for an unpopular opinion here – I couldn’t help but think this book reminds of ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon because of some similarities in the story and character settings.
In both books, the main characters are confined to their house; Maddy for having an extremely severe case of allergy while Norah has been suffering from agoraphobia which literally stops her from going out – she can’t even make it to the car parked in the front porch.
Secondly, the boys; Olly and Luke. They both move in next door and gradually, ever so slightly get to know with the girls.
Nevertheless, I do believe it’s rather popular story setting which does happen often, and none of those similarities hindered me from enjoying this ‘Under Rose-Tainted Skies.’ I really enjoyed the entire book.
On top of that, what separates those two is the underlining despair and conflicts that Norah goes through. While she feels her spirits going up and up as she gets closer with Luke, she is also plagued by the mere thoughts of so many things she can never possibly do. Again, it feels so heart-breaking and sad.
What I find amazing about this book other than the integrity is Norah. Despite all the flaws and imperfections she has, I adored her and related to her.
I did get irritated by Norah when she pushes off Luke who is trying to reach out to her, but I knew she can’t help it – that’s her anxiety’s doing and not Norah’s. So, it didn’t bother me at all. If anything, that made me want to see her get over her illness even more. I also found she is undeniably brave. She knows all too well her ODCs and the limitations that are imposed by her illness, yet she also tries to find ways to strengthen the relationship she has built with Luke. If she wasn’t brave, then what would she be? I got so invested in Nora and the story, I just wanted to hope for the best.
My only disappointment with this book is Luke. Although I do adore the slow and steady romance between Norah and Luke and how compassionate and patient he is with Norah, I felt a bit sorry that I didn’t get to see what kind of person he actually is. I didn’t find his character fleshed out well enough.
Since Luke plays such an important role in this story, I wanted to see more of him and get to know what he is like.
Other characters – her mother and her doctor – are just amazing in terms of how solid and grounded they are. They know what they are talking about and always do what it takes to support Norah. This is another thing what I think make this book jump out and prevents it from being reduced down to being a mere YA fiction.
All in all, I did enjoy this book quite a lot. This book taught me a lot of things – particularly, it taught me that trivial things what anyone without any form of mental illness would easily brush off can trigger red-warning lights in those who are afflicted, how things can go haywire in their brain.
I really appreciate this book for tackling such serious issues straight up. Being a YA, but I highly recommend this book to anyone.