Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.
Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable. (Goodreads)
This book is another example of my ‘hate and love’ relationship with Sophie Kinsella book. Yes, as you can guess, I initially hate this book with a passion to the extent I wanted to ditch this book with disgust, but ended up liking it more than I anticipated. Sophie Kinsella did it again. I can give her credit for that.
The first half was really a test for me; as I briefly mentioned in my previous posts, the portrayal of Audrey’s family especially her mom really grated on my nerves. Like I said, as though Sophie Kinsella was always, ALWAYS in need of having one or two totally air-brained, absurd, frustrating characters in her books. I do understand it’s actually something some readers — correction — most readers absolutely adore, but sadly to say, it never worked for me. I even HATED this book for that.
As I said, in this book, it was her Mom. Oh, God. She drove me up the wall. You see, this book was supposed to be about Audrey, but nearly one-third of the book goes on about Frank, Audrey’s older brother and her mom’s cat-and-mouse game over a video game. Its portrayal was literally such a mess; overly dramatized and ostentatious. I mean, I didn’t see the point why I had to read on and on about something that’s remotely related to Audrey herself. Sure, it might be to display how dysfunctional her family is and we get to know the snippets of what could have driven her mom to act like that much later in the book, but early on, who could have guessed that?
Anyway. (This is actually Audrey’s pet phrase in case you’re wondering) That over-the-top description after description on the fuss between her mom and Frank totally eclipsed the issues Audrey’s been suffering from, even her mental illness started to seem fake. Oh. my.
But then, things flip and the plot suddenly thickens in the latter half. Typical yet absorbing Sophie Kinsella moment if you like.
To be frank, I initially found the shift in the temperature of the book rather abrupt and forced.
It felt as though Kinsella used the fiasco surrounding her family as a prop, like a springboard to launch into Audrey’s story — even the fainty waft of romance with Linus, which I think was supposed to be heart-swooning, kind of seem contrived. In addition to that, that said romance gave off the hint of ‘insta-love’ and that made me want to tear my hair out. (You might think how twisted my thoughts and personality traits are, but that’s how I saw things in this book.)
But after that point, this book gets more and more intriguing, gripping and engrossing. As the story gets deeper into Audrey’s issues and thoughts, I found myself glued to the book reading on, anxious to see how it goes down.
Tactfully intertwined with the main plot where Audrey struggles and thrives to get better, this book also delves into the reasons why her family, especially her Mom, is the way she is and changes Frank goes through, as in him finding what he can possibly be into other than video games. This is actually one of the things I liked about this book in addition to the positive changes and growth of Audrey, reeled me even further into the book.
Finally, after an emotional, big explosion, the ensuing ‘picking-up-pieces’ moments are delineated which depicts how her family comes together and how the mutual understanding has been established.
Once a dysfunctional family is no longer dysfunctional. They communicate, support, and move on together. Step by step.
By the time I closed the book, my initial distaste towards this book had actually been gone. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I loved this book, but I liked this book all right.
Well, more than ‘all right’ in fact.
Nevertheless, one tiny gripe about the romance in this book; I was interested in the romance between Audrey and Linus NOT AN INCH as a matter of fact. This book might have fared well enough without it. The thing is, romance can sometimes totally ruin the book, diluting the message a book is trying to convey to the state of nonexistent, but as far as this book is concerned, it’s done well. It is undeniable Linus is the very driving force of Audrey’s recovery, he is the one who gives it momentum, so I could live with that.
So all in all, this book won over my heart in the end. There. I said it.
Although this book is a bit on the light side for a book dealing with mental illness and I must warn you that you might find the first one-third frustrating if you’re like me, but I’d say, ‘stick with it; it’ll pick up and grow on you!’ because it did.
So, be patient, don’t give up on this book. And you’ll end this book feeling refreshed, like a soft breeze grazing against your skin.
My Rating: ★★★★