by Sophie Kinsella
Published on June 9, 2015
by Delacorte Books
Synopsis from Goodreads: An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.My take: Based on prior disappointing experiences with fourteen year-old YA protagonists, I wasn't going to read this. Then I read this review by Cait from Paper Fury, who felt that the book made a joke of Audrey's anxiety. I understand how she feels, as I've also been annoyed, enraged, and disappointed in books that use mental illness and disorders as wacky character quirks rather than real medical conditions that deserve to be taken seriously and treated. (And I was sorry to see that Cait took a lot of online heat for her very reasoned opinions, which is disappointing. It's fine and normal for two readers to disagree on a book, or to have a completely different reading experience.)
But I requested this at the library. At first I wasn't sure about it. Good news: Audrey didn't seem shockingly young to me. Bad news: the humor in this book wasn't really my cup of Earl Gray. I'm more of a dark/wry humor fan and this book has that more cutesy/twee British humor that doesn't always do it for me.
But then Finding Audrey grew on me. There were two main plots, one about Audrey and her attempts to get past her social anxiety, and a more minor plot about Audrey's parents and their worry that Audrey's teenage brother Frank is addicted to his computer. The book does have an overall humorous bent. And to be sure, there's nothing funny about actually suffering from anxiety. (If you have no experience with it, it's like this constant and overwhelming feeling that something terrible is going to happen. There's a small, rational part of your brain that knows this isn't true, but you still feel in complete terror/dread mode. It's exhausting because you have to either a) retreat and hide, as Audrey does or b) expend a lot of mental and/ physical energy trying to pretend you're okay.)
But by the middle of the book, everything began to tie together for me. First, it seemed to me that most of the comic stuff had to do with the computer stuff, not with Audrey. Also, I liked the fact that Audrey was in treatment and enjoyed reading about her sessions with Dr. Sarah. Audrey is doing someting called exposures, in which an anxiety patient is encouraged to (in baby steps) do things that might seem easy to most of us but can be terrifying to someone with anxiety. Things like making a phone call. Going to a Starbucks. Audrey also has trouble with eye contact, so her doctor has her make a documentary, as a way to see and be seen without beeling scrutinized.
I was worried that the romance would feel problematic amidst the anxiety stuff. (No, love does not have magical curative powers.) But I thought that Linus was really supportive of Audrey and her situation.
In conclusion, in some ways this book was younger and and a bit more cute than I prefer, but I enjoyed it.